Toho Tenax began providing carbon fibres for aircraft in the mid 1980s and now supplies Airbus and other aerospace manufacturers with various advanced materials. It recently concluded long-term supply contracts with EADS (the parent company of European aircraft maker Airbus), and Bombardier Aerospace of Canada.
Under the new initiatives, Toho Tenax aims to supply advanced carbon fibre materials for a variety of aircraft, including regional and business jets. As well as carbon fibre sales, the company plans to increase revenue from prepreg sales.
Toho Tenax lists the following specific initiatives to be taken:
- significantly expand prepreg business, shifting aerospace business revenue from 80% from yarn sales at present to more than 50% from prepreg and composite sales within 5-10 years. New production bases will be considered, depending on the volume of demand;
- strengthen direct contracts with aerospace manufacturers;
- strengthen organisational structure through the newly formed Aerospace Sales Department, a dedicated sales organisation established to provide aerospace-related products and services through a doubling of global sales personnel and stronger partnerships with its subsidiaries in Europe and the USA;
- strengthen technological partnerships with other Teijin Group companies to develop high-performance carbon fibres and resins for next-generation aircraft by improving prepreg productivity, developing mass production technology and adopting innovative materials and technologies from automotive applications; and
- launch a thermoplastic prepreg production facility to manufacture high performance materials with superior impact resistance and abrasion resistance for use as primary structural materials in aircraft. Following the signing of a contract to supply EADS with carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic resin laminate sheet for the A350 XWB aircraft, Toho Tenax has begun investing in a new thermoplastic prepreg line at the Oberbruch plant of Toho Tenax Europe GmbH in Germany. The line will be completed this October and production will start in March 2011.
Toho Tenax has recently developed two materials that are moving towards practical application:
- carbon fibre composite material using PEEK thermoplastic resins for the A350 XWB aircraft. The technology has been verified and qualification is under way; and
- carbon fibre composite material using benzoxazine thermosetting resins for the A380 aircraft. Technology verification has been completed and preparations for qualification are under way.
By 2025, Toho Tenax aims to provide the aerospace market with 6000 tons of carbon fibre for a 30% market share worth over 100 billion yen. The demand for carbon fibre composite materials in the aerospace market is expected to grow from 5000 tons/year at present to more than 10000 tons in 2015 and some 20 000 tons by 2025.
Toho Tenax is the core company of the Teijin Group's carbon fibres business. The Toho Tenax Group is a leading carbon fibre manufacturer with an annual production capacity of 13 500 tons in Japan, Germany and USA. Toho Tenax Europe GmbH is an affiliate with production capacities for Tenax® carbon fibres, located in Germany and responsible for the European market.