Japanese materials firm Teijin Ltd. said June 28 it is setting up a production line in Germany to supply carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic laminate sheet to European aircraft maker Airbus, as part of what Teijin said is a plan to heavily target composites applications in the aerospace market.
Tokyo-based Teijin said it had signed a long-term supply agreement with Airbus for its Tenax thermoplastic sheet for its new A350 XWB (extra-wide body) passenger aircraft, as well as reaching an agreement worth 130 million euros ($160.4 million) to supply carbon-fiber materials for Bombardier Aerospace's new C series regional jets.
Teijin said it wanted to shift its aerospace business and get 50 percent of its sales from carbon-fiber prepreg within five to 10 years, compared with the 80 percent of aerospace revenue that today comes from its carbon-fiber yarn business.
The company also said it was doubling its sales force in aerospace and seeking to expand direct contacts with aerospace manufacturers, in a move seen as challenging some of the existing aerospace materials suppliers like Toray Industries Inc.
In a June 28 statement, Teijin said the new German manufacturing line, at the existing Oberbruch facility of its Toho Tenax Europe GmbH subsidiary, would start production in March with a unidirectional prepreg line.
The first contract calls for supplying carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic resin laminate sheet for the new A350 model.
Toho Tenax expects this award to be the first of many in the thermoplastics field, Teijin said.
It also said it would consider establishing other production bases as it tries to expand its prepreg market.
The A350, which is scheduled to start service in 2013, is Airbus's answer to airline demands for lighter aircraft, with carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics making up a significant portion of its weight.
Teijin said it is pressing ahead with new material development aimed at aerospace, and said it had recently developed a carbon-fiber composite using polyetheretherketone PEEK resin for the A350 XWB, and another carbon-fiber composite using benzoxazine thermoset resin for the Airbus A380.
It said both are being qualified and moving to practical applications.
Teijin said it entered into an agreement with Airbus in 2008 to jointly develop advanced materials for aircraft. It said it was in talks with Airbus to supply other materials, including its benzoxazine prepreg in the A380's auxiliary power unit housing.
Teijin also said its agreement with Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier would supply carbon-fiber material for major primary and secondary composites structures on the new C series regional jet. That 10-year agreement was also with Teijin's European division, Toho Tenax.
As aircraft makers look for lighter materials to build planes, Teijin said it expects the aerospace carbon-fiber composites market to grow from 11 million pounds a year now, to 22 million pounds by 2015 and 44 million pounds by 2025.
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