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Advanced Carbon Fibre Nears Broad Automotive Use

General Motors (GM) and Teijin Limited, a leader in the carbon fibre and composites industry, will co-develop advanced carbon fibre composite technologies for potential high-volume use globally in GM cars, trucks and crossovers.
The partnership will potentially enable GM to introduce CFRTP components on mainstream vehicles. For Teijin, the arrangement could lead to widening its portfolio beyond specialty and high-end automotive carbon fibre applications.
“Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fibre is used in the automotive industry,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. “This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.”
To support the relationship, Teijin will establish the Teijin Composites Application Centre, a technical centre in the northern part of the United States early next year.
As carbon fibre is 10 times stronger than regular-grade steel yet only one-quarter of the weight, carbon fibre composites used as automobile components are expected to dramatically reduce vehicle weight. Consumers benefit from lighter weight vehicles with better fuel economy and all the safety benefits that come with vehicles of greater mass.
Teijin’s proprietary breakthrough is its ability to mass-produce carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic components with cycle times of under a minute. Conventional carbon fibre-reinforced composites use thermosetting resins and require a much longer timeframe for moulding. This time factor has limited the use of carbon fibre in high-volume vehicles.
Increasingly, strict global environmental standards and fuel economy regulations have intensified the need to reduce vehicle mass by using lightweight materials in place of high-tension steel or aluminium.
The Teijin Group, which has identified automobiles as a key growth market, accelerated the new technology development through collaboration by the Teijin Composites Innovation Centre and Toho Tenax Co. Ltd., where the mass-production technology for carbon fibre reinforced plastic components using thermoplastic resin was successfully developed.
“Teijin’s innovative CFRTP technology, which promises to realize revolutionarily lighter automotive body structures, will play an important role in GM’s initiative to bring carbon fibre components into mainstream vehicles”, said Norio Kamei, senior managing director of Teijin. “We believe our visionary relationship with GM will lead the way in increased usage of green composites in the automotive industry.”
The launch of any carbon fibre-intensive vehicle applications resulting from the relationship will be announced closer to market readiness. The agreement does not involve an exchange of equity between the companies.