Toray Strengthening Carbon Fiber Business in U.S.

Toray Industries, Inc. has decided to integrate its U.S. subsidiaries, Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. (CFA; based in Decatur, Alabama) and Toray Composites (America), Inc. (TCA; based in Tacoma, Washington).

CFA is engaged in the manufacturing and sales of regular tow carbon fiber, and TCA manufactures and sells high-tech prepreg materials (resin-impregnated carbon fiber sheets).
Beginning in April 2017, the two businesses will be integrated into a single business operating structure of carbon fiber and prepregs. TCA will be the surviving company, and its name will be changed to Toray Composite Materials America, Inc. The new company will have a capitalization of approximately 40 billion yen, with sales of approximately 70 billion yen and an employee count of about 1,000.

Up till now, the two companies have been operating as up- and mid-stream business companies for carbon fiber. With the integration, Toray expects further business expansion by bolstering the sales and technological development capabilities, as well as building a flexible production structure to offer solutions in response to market needs.

The integrated plant for the process from spinning and carbonizing to prepregging, under construction in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will start production in a phased manner in 2017. Toray plans to draft a concrete expansion plan for the plant within the year to respond to demand for high-strength regular tow carbon fiber for industrial and automobile applications in addition to existing aircraft and space applications.

Toray has also decided to enhance the production facilities for large tow carbon fiber at Zoltek Companies, Inc. By the end of 2017, Zoltek will begin increasing its production capacity, and will continue the capacity increase until the capacity at the Mexico plant (Jalisco, Mexico) is doubled to more than 10,000 ton/year. With this expansion, Zoltek’s total global production capacity will grow to more than 20,000 tons from the current 15,000 tons.

This capacity expansion is a key as the demand for large tow carbon fiber is growing rapidly for industrial applications including wind turbine blades, and the industry is already experiencing a supply shortage especially in Asia, mainly China and India.