Japanese advanced materials manufacturer Toray Industries, Inc. announced that it has developed a new variety of regular tow carbon fiber with an outstanding combination of cost and performance; therefore, the company, through its U.S. subsidiary Zoltek Companies, Inc., has decided to build a new carbonization facility for mass production at the premises of its Mexican plant located in El Salto, Jalisco to cater to the strongly growing carbon fiber demand.
According to a brief by the company, the overall global carbon fiber market is expected to continue growing at a rate exceeding 10% annually as the material is utilized in various industries and market needs are diversifying along with demand growth. The new facility is expected to start production at the end of 2018.
Until now, Toray Group has lined up a wide range of products from ultra-high-performance carbon fibers for aerospace applications to high strength and average elastic modulus carbon fibers that are increasingly being adopted for other industrial applications. This increase is led by the robust demand in the automotive industry.
Carbon fiber needs are expected to diversify further, and the demand for overall industrial applications is expected to expand exponentially as electric and fuel cell vehicles begin adopting carbon fibers in full scale.
“To respond to this demand growth, Toray has been advancing the development of new varieties of regular tow, which has impressive cost and performance characteristics. A new Toray product, Z600, a new variety developed by the company, has physical properties that are in between large tow, which Zoltek currently produces, and regular tow, which has a track record in applications such as pressure vessels,” said the company in its report.
While the company omitted the amount of investment required at the new plant, the Nikkei Asian Review has speculated the company will spend over US$ 100 million in this project.