Sat 14, Apr 2018
News & Image Source: Toray Industries, Inc.
Toray Industries, Inc. announced that it succeeded in developing a new fabrication technology for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics that enables both improved dimensional accuracy and energy savings. Going forward, Toray will further mature this new technology and broadly deploy it to mainly aircraft applications that continuously demand higher productivity and more energy savings. Moreover this technology is anticipated to benefit automobile and general industrial applications as well, and will contribute to the development of CFRP materials.
CFRP is usually fabricated using an autoclave (high temperature and high pressure furnace) or an oven where prepreg (intermediate material in sheet form) is placed on a mold of predetermined shape and the resin in the prepreg is cured using heated air for fabrication. The conventional fabrication technology has disadvantage that requires long time for heating up and curing due to inefficient heat transfer of heated air and large heat capacity of the mold.
In order to effectively control this heating system, Toray carried out a joint research program with Ehime University (Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan) and Tokyo University of Science (Tokyo, Japan) to establish simulation technologies to predict part deformation and optimize heater temperature. Toray combined them into a program for designing heating conditions that would effectively minimize fabrication time and dimensional errors of the parts. Toray installed a prototype fabrication device and is currently conducting demonstration trials
Toray’s newly developed fabrication technology provides a solution to the problem with a number of embedded sheet heaters on the mold’s surface. Each heater is individually controlled and the part under vacuum is heated effectively from direct contacts with the heaters. Controlling individual heaters and allowing optimum heat distribution at each location provides even residual stress throughout the fabricated part. As a result, the part can be fabricated as close to the original design with minimal dimensional inconsistencies.
According to Stratview Research, the global out-of-autoclave prepreg market is likely to witness an excellent double-digit growth rate over the next five years to reach an estimated value of US$ 206.1 million in 2023. OOA prepreg currently holds a diminutive share in the total prepreg market but is expected to remarkable growth over the next five years. OOA prepreg offers a wide array of benefits over traditional prepregs, such as low-cost infrastructure, low-void content (<1%) in thick laminates, even resin distribution, avoid dry spots & resin-rich pockets, and ability to cure at low temperatures.
Toray has announced business expansion in growth fields and creation of new demand by developing new products as important tasks for the carbon fiber composite materials business in its medium-term management program “Project AP-G 2019,” launched in April 2017. Toray will continue to engage in developments for new products by enhancing performance of carbon fiber composite materials and improving user process capabilities.