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Toray and Daimler have agreed to establish a joint venture for manufacturing and marketing of carbon fibre reinforced plastics(CFRP) automobile parts.
Under the Joint Development Agreement signed in March last year, Toray, in addition to developing optimal carbon fibre intermediate materials for CFRP, has been working on design and moulding processes, with Daimler taking responsibility for designing parts and developing technologies for joining of the parts. The companies say that they have succeeded in developing an innovative technology for mass-production of CFRP parts with a significantly shorter moulding cycle.
The partners plan to start supplying mass-produced CFRP parts utilizing Short Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), the CFRP moulding process technology developed by Toray for Daimlers Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles to be launched in 2012.
Lightweight construction is an integral part of Daimlers strategy towards sustainable mobility. The company has set a development goal of reducing the body-in-white weight by up to 10% compared with the preceding model for all Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the aim of further improving fuel efficiency and reducing exhaust gas emissions. In order to achieve this goal, Daimler has been forcing developments of technologies based on the principle of allocating the right material in the right place. As part of this move, the company plans to actively adopt CFRP parts and increase the number of models using such parts.
Reducing the vehicle weight for boosting fuel efficiency is an important issue in the automobile industry. The move towards adoption of carbon fibre is expected to soon gain momentum as a solution for significantly reducing the automobile body weight. This weight-saving initiative by Toray and Daimler would partially offset any increase in weight caused by additional safety and comfort features or new technologies used in alternative drive systems. Furthermore they say that CFRP parts contribute to an increased stiffness of the vehicle body, thereby further increasing the crash integrity of the passenger cell.
The two companies intend to continue promoting their joint development to establish an overwhelmingly cost competitive mass production technology. The joint venture will manufacture and market CFRP parts to further promote the adoption of carbon fibre composite materials in the automotive field even beyond the current applications in e.g. sport cars.
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