Toray Industries has developed a high tensile modulus carbon fibre and thermoplastic pellets that are ideal for injection molding employing that fibre. The pellets will enable the efficient production of complex, rigid parts which are also light, thereby helping lower the environmental impact. These developments would greatly enhance cost performance.

Toray plans to pursue research and development to commercialise the fibre and pellets within the next three years.

Toray is looking to cultivate diverse applications for its advanced pellets, including for parts in lightweight next-generation automobiles and in industry in general. The new carbon fibre will help balance greenhouse gas emissions and absorption worldwide through the use of parts that are lighter and more energy efficient.

Toray markets the TorayCA T series of high-strength carbon fibres for pressure vessel, automotive, and other industrial applications, as well as for aerospace. In 2014, it launched the TorayCA T1100G carbon fibre, which 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 fibre for high-end sports equipment and aerospace structural materials by commercialising TorayCA M40X. This offering employs proprietary nano-level fibre structure control technology to balance a high compression strength and a tensile strength of 5.7 GPa, with a tensile modulus of 377 GPa. The fibre’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 fibres with uniform internal structures. The result was a fibre with a tensile modulus of elasticity of 390 GPa, around 70 per cent higher than the standard level of TorayCA series offerings for industrial applications, delivering a much better cost performance.

TorayCA thermoplastic pellets incorporating the newly developed carbon fibres maintain longer fibres than conventional high tensile modulus offerings after molding processes. The pellets can thus deliver a tensile modulus of 41 GPa. That is comparable to the 45 GPa of magnesium alloys. At the same time 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 much to lightening parts.