Toho Tenax announces strategic shift toward prepreg carbon fiber

Toho Tenax says it will shift aerospace business revenue from 80 percent from yarn sales at present to more than 50 percent from prepreg and composite sales within five to 10 years.

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Toho Tenax Co. Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan), the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers business, announced June 28 that in an effort to expand its carbon fiber business, the company is significantly strengthening its strategic initiatives in the global aerospace market.

Under the new initiatives, the company aims to supply advanced carbon fiber materials for a variety of aircraft, including regional and business jets. In addition to carbon fiber yarn sales, Toho Tenax plans to expand revenue through strengthened prepreg sales. Specific initiatives include:

  • Significantly expand prepreg business, shifting aerospace business revenue from 80 percent from yarn sales at present to more than 50 percent from prepreg and composite sales within five to 10 years. As part of this expansion, the establishment of new production bases will be considered depending on the volume of demand.
  • Strengthen direct contracts with aerospace manufacturers, particularly to meet rising demand for solutions and to secure markets for the company’s own yarn.
  • Strengthen organizational structure through the newly formed Aerospace Sales Department, a dedicated sales organization established to provide aerospace--related products and services through a doubling of global sales personnel and strengthened partnerships with its subsidiaries in Europe and the U.S.A.
  • Strengthen technological partnerships with other Teijin Group companies to develop high-performance carbon fibers and resins for next-generation aircraft by improving prepreg productivity, developing mass-production technology and adopting innovative materials and technologies from automotive applications.
  • Launch a thermoplastic prepreg production facility to manufacture high-performance materials with superior impact resistance and abrasion resistance for use as primary structural materials in aircraft. Following the signing of a contract to supply EADS with carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic resin laminate sheet for the A350 XWB aircraft, Toho Tenax has begun investing in a new thermoplastic prepreg line at the Oberbruch plant of Toho Tenax Europe GmbH in Germany. The line will be completed this October and production will start in March 2011.

Most recently, Toho Tenax has developed two materials that are moving towards practical application:

  • Carbon fiber composite material using PEEK thermoplastic resins for the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. The technology has been verified and qualification is under way.
  • Carbon fiber composite material using benzoxazine thermosetting resins for the A380 aircraft. Technology verification has been completed and preparations for qualification are under way.

By 2025, Toho Tenax says aims to provide the aerospace market with 6,000 tons of carbon fiber for a 30 percent market share worth more than ¥100 billion yen. Toho Tenax says demand for carbon fiber composite materials in the aerospace market is expected to grow from 5,000 tons/year at present to more than 10,000 tons in 2015 and about 20,000 tons by 2025.