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Toray to expand production capacity in Ehime Plant
22
Feb '08
Toray Industries Inc announced that it will expand its capacity to produce the PAN-based carbon fiber TORAYCA. The company will add to its Ehime Plant (Masaki-cho, Ehime Prefecture) an additional carbonization facility for special thin carbon fibers for industrial use having an annual production capacity of 1,000 tons.

This new facility is scheduled to begin operation in July 2009. The company's recently adopted capacity-expansion plan involves a total investment of approximately ¥16 billion, including funds for the addition of a PAN precursor production facility and a carbon-fiber carbonization facility, as well as plant-site preparation.

The planned expansion of capacity will increase the Ehime Plant's annual carbon-fiber production capacity from its present 7,300 tons to 8,300 tons, with the Toray Group's total annual production capacity being expanded from its present 14,300 tons to 18,900 tons.

Under Toray's capacity-expansion plan, the new facility will include a production line for special thin carbon fibers (very-fine carbon fibers made up of 3,000 or 6,000 single threads) used for industrial purposes. Thin carbon fibers are characterized by good moldability that only fine fibers can deliver and that makes them suitable for use in automotive parts, bicycle frames, and industrial robots, which have to meet sophisticated and complicated design requirements.

They are also used in secondary structural elements for aircrafts, such as main rotor blades, flaps, and spoilers. At present, thin carbon fibers are experiencing a rapid increase in demand for industrial applications in which environment, safety, and energy are three of the most favored keywords. In the aircraft market, the supply-and-demand situation for thin carbon fibers has been increasingly strained as the two manufacturing giants Boeing and Airbus have launched their own new passenger-aircraft programs in earnest.

Toray's recent planned expansion of capacity is intended to provide a steady supply of thin carbon fibers in order to meet the expanding demand for thin carbon fibers for aircraft. In addition, the company has launched a program to install at the Ehime Plant both a production line for a medium-elasticity, high-strength carbon fiber for primary structural elements for aircrafts and a new large facility to produce carbon fiber for general industrial use.

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