Toray aims to optimize TORAYCA global operations

March 02, 2007 - Japan

Toray Industries Inc announced that the company made a decision to expand production capacity of its PAN-based carbon fiber TORAYCA composite material simultaneously at its three manufacturing bases in Japan, the U.S. and France. The move is aimed at responding to the full-scale expansion in demand for PAN-based carbon fibers for uses including aircraft application.

The company plans to spend 55.0 billion yen in total to build additional facilities at all the manufacturing bases of the group through the beginning of 2009. In Japan, it plans to build a second prepreg (carbon fiber sheets impregnated with epoxy resin) manufacturing facility at its Ishikawa Plant (Nomi-shi, Ishikawa prefecture), in addition to its Ehime Plant (Masaki-cho, Ehime prefecture).

Since 2004, Toray has been carrying out focused capital investment on carbon fiber products. It is already committed to boosting capacity to 13,900 tons a year by August 2007, compared with 7,300 tons at the end of 2003.

With the investment announced this time, the group’s production capacity for carbon fibers will increase by 4,000 tons to 17,900 tons a year and that for prepreg by 11.6 million m2 to 33.8 million m2 a year. Accumulated investments since 2004 reach 110 billion yen.

Under the capacity increase plan this time, Toray will newly build a large-scale production line with production capacity of 1,800 tons a year at each of its U.S. subsidiary Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. (CFA; Decatur, Alabama, the U.S.) and French subsidiary Société des Fibres de Carbone S.A. (SOFICAR; Abidos, France) and a new high-performance carbon fiber production line with capacity of 400 tons will be built at the Ehime Plant in Japan.

Toray will also build a precursor production line at CFA along with this increase in carbon fiber production capacity.

With respect to prepreg, the company will add a production line with annual capacity of 5.8 million m2 at its U.S. subsidiary Toray Composites America, Inc. (TCA; Tacoma, Washington, the U.S.) and newly build a line with similar capacity at its Ishikawa Plant in Japan.

The additional investments will enable Toray to enhance its supply structure for the materials for B787, a new passenger aircraft which Boeing Co. of the U.S. aims to introduce in 2008, and strengthen its high value-added products business while ensuring a stable supply structure to respond to the rise of new demand in sports and general industrial applications and the tight supply and demand balance.

With these expansions, Toray aims to optimize its TORAYCA global operations based on the three international bases of Japan, the U.S. and France by enhancing the production structure for materials ranging from precursor to prepreg.

Currently, the worldwide demand for PAN-based carbon fibers is estimated at about 27,000 tons (2006) and the demand is expected to continue expanding at an annual rate of 15% in the future.

In addition to the impact of the full-scale expansion in demand for aircraft application centered on B787, the global demand is expected to reach 45,500 tons in 2010 on increase in demand for alternative energy-related applications including CNG tanks and the material’s full-scale penetration into the automobile filed in the future.