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Teijin revolutionizes auto production with CFRP breakthrough

The Tokyo headquartered Teijin Limited has announced the first mass production process for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), a breakthrough reducing the molding time for an automobile cabin to under 60 seconds.
Posted: March 9, 2011 - 1:32PM
Author: Don Bain

This system is the solution to a problem plaguing the auto industry for a good many years. Teijin's new approach utilizes intermediate thermoplastic resin materials instead of conventional thermosetting resin for molding CFRP. Teijin also developed a means to weld thermoplastic CFRP parts together and bond CFRP with other materials like steel, which will reduce the use of metal in the manufacturing processes.

Ultimately this will lead to lighter weight, fuel efficient yet safer vehicles. Teijin intends to develop CFRP production applications for automobiles as well as other items requiring high levels of structural strength – machine tools and industrial robots , for example.

By impregnating carbon fiber with thermoplastic resin, Teijin developed three intermediate materials for the production of CFRP for use in mass-production vehicles. The new materials can be used in accordance with the required strength and cost of the part, and can be made with various thermoplastic resins, including polypropylene and polyamide.

They are three different products used in the process. The first is referred to as unidirectional intermediate, as it has ultrahigh strength in a certain direction.

The second is called isotropic intermediate which provides an optimal balance of shape flexibility and multidirectional strength.

Finally, long-fiber thermoplastic pellets allow the injection molding of complex parts.

To demonstrate its new technologies, Teijin developed an electric-vehicle (EV) concept car featuring an entirely thermoplastic CFRP cabin frame weighing only 47 kilograms, or roughly one fifth the weight of a conventional automobile's cabin. The four-seat EV, capable of speeds up to 60 km/hour and has a cruising range of 100 km, and embodies Teijin's vision of super-lightweight CFRP-bsed vehicles.

Teijin will use the car to promote its technology to automakers and parts suppliers, and also joint initiatives in developing lighter cars. Teijin will also establish new business models for its carbon-fiber composites by supplying CFRP parts to the market.

Looking ahead, the Teijin Group plans to cultivate its expansion of advanced composite materials. To this end on April 1, Teijin will establish a new business group, named the Carbon Fibers and Composites Business Group, by integrating its current business units for carbon fibers and composite materials.