Tokyo-based Toray Industries and Teijin have both unveiled new carbon fiber materials that they believe could help slash aircraft production costs by half.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Toray and Teijin are planning to introduce their products at the International Paris Air Show 2019.
Toray, Teijin and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings currently dominate around 60% of the global carbon fiber market combined.
They supply carbon fiber-reinforced plastic which is 10 times stronger than steel – and only a quarter as heavy – to manufacturers of aircraft parts.
Toray – who specializes in thermosetting materials that harden when exposed to heat – has developed a new composite material that shrinks production times by 20% to 30%.
Toray’s carbon fiber is used in the wings and fuselage of Boeing’s 787 jetliner, but the lengthy production time has limited the Japanese company to supplying material for only about 10 aircraft a month.
Toray has thus begun focusing on thermoplastic materials, which become soft when heat is applied, making them easier to process into parts.
Teijin too has started developing a thermosetting material better suited for mass production, with deliveries to a major European aircraft manufacturer set to begin as early as next year.
The company will start supplying a thermoplastic material for Boeing’s next-generation aircraft by 2021 as well. It aims to triple annual sales of aircraft-related carbon fiber products to about $920 million by 2030.
Both companies believe that wide adoption of these new materials could help slash the cost of manufacturing carbon fiber parts for aircraft.
Carbon fiber is used mainly in midsize and large jetliners from Boeing and Airbus, but the new low-cost products likely would expand the market to small jetliners and business jets.
Demand for carbon fiber is expected to continue rising, thanks partly to the growth of budget airlines, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
According to research company Fuji Keizai, the market for carbon fiber aircraft parts is projected to increase 150% from the 2018 level by 2030.
Image and content: Skeeze-Pixabay/Nikkei Asian Review