Toray Industries, Inc. has created a high tensile modulus carbon fiber and thermoplastic pellets that are ideal for injection molding employing that fiber.
The pellets will enable efficient production of complex, rigid parts, which are also light, thereby lowering environmental impact. These advances could greatly enhance cost performance.
Toray will promote research and development to commercialize the fiber and pellets within the next three years.
Toray markets the Torayca T series of high-strength carbon fibers for pressure vessel, automotive and other industrial applications, as well as for aerospace. In 2014, it launched Torayca T1100, a carbon fiber that offers a world-leading tensile strength of 7.0 GPa and a tensile modulus of elasticity of 320 GPa.
In 2018, the company further expanded the potential of carbon fiber for high-end sports equipment and aerospace structural materials by commercializing Torayca M40X. This offering employs proprietary nano-level fiber structure control technology to balance high compression strength and tensile strength of 5.7 GPa, with a tensile modulus of 377 GPa. The fiber’s diameter of 5 microns constrains productivity, however, making costs an issue.
Toray tackled that challenge by pursuing further advances with its Torayca MX series control technology to create 7-micron fibers with uniform internal structures. The result was a fiber with a tensile modulus of elasticity of 390 GPa, around 70% higher than the standard level of Torayca series offerings for industrial applications, delivering considerably better cost performance.
Torayca thermoplastic pellets incorporating the newly developed carbon fibers maintain longer fibers than conventional high tensile modulus offerings after molding processes. The pellets can attain a tensile modulus of 41 GPa, which is comparable to the 45 GPa of magnesium alloys. At the same time, the pellets have a specific gravity of just 1.4, against the 1.8 of magnesium alloy. Using these pellets to make complex parts through injection molding processes would significantly enhance productivity and contribute significantly to lightening parts.
Toray looks to cultivate diverse applications for its advanced pellets, including for parts in lightweight next-generation automobiles and in industry in general.
The new carbon fiber should contribute to the group’s vision of balancing greenhouse gas emissions and absorption worldwide through the use of parts that are lighter and more energy efficient.