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SGL & Mitsubishi Co-operation to Produce Improved Carbon Fibre

  • Friday, 4th February 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

SGL Carbon and Mitsubishi Rayon Corp. of Tokyo Japan (MRC) have agreed on a strategic co-operation to improve carbon fibre.

Having recently signed respective long-term contracts, SGL will receive certain technologies, special raw material and support from MRC. This will assist SGL to produce a highly improved Carbon fibre in its plant in Inverness/Scotland.

The performance potential of this new carbon fibre has already been proven in pilot plants at SGL and MRC. SGL claim that it combines the performance and high quality of regular small-tow carbon fibre with the efficient production capacities SGL has developed in its plant in Inverness. The new fibre will allow SGL to develop and capitalize on new applications including automotive, wind energy, infrastructure and concrete reinforcement applications, from 2006 onwards.

As part of the strategic alliance in technical and raw material areas MRC will receive in return up to 750 tons of this new carbon fibre from SGL under a long term supply agreement starting from Q1 2006 following further own investments of MRC. Both sides are viewing the co-operation on the development and production of the new carbon fibre as a first step together, and have expectations to further build the partnership. The strategic co-operation strengthens SGL Carbon’s global competitive position in the carbon fibre market especially for high quality products, in terms of technology, raw material and capacity utilization. Furthermore SGL Technologies’ own downstream business in prepreg- composite- and carbon/ceramic-materials (e.g. brake discs) will benefit from the new carbon fibre quality.

SGL’s Carbon Fibre business includes a 100 % owned modern facility of approx. 5000 tons capacity for oxidized and carbon fibre in Inverness, Scotland as well as a 50 % participation in Carbon Fibre Technology LLC (CFT), a Joint venture with Aldila Inc. San Diego/California with further 1000 tons carbon fibre capacity in Evanston, Wyoming, USA. Both plants were built up in recent years, and include state of the art large capacity production lines. In total SGL’s Carbon Fibre business has a turnover of approx. €m 35 million at present and is expected to grow in double digits over the next several years.

The agreement and cooperation with Mitsubishi, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon fibres and especially of the carbon fibre raw material Polyacrylonitrile (PAN), represents a major strategic step change in SGL’s worldwide carbon fibre business

Following the agreement, Mitsubishi is to increase carbon fibre capacity at its U.S. subsidiary, Grafil Inc., by 500 tons pa. from 1,500 tons pa. to 2,000 tons pa. The extra capacity will come on stream in the fourth quarter of 2005 and is in response to a rapid expansion in demand for carbon fibre, says the company.

The Company also expects to obtain qualification to become a supplier for the A380, a key aircraft in Airbus’ next-generation fleet.

Taken together the increase at Grafil and outsourcing at SGL will raise Mitsubishi’s global carbon fibre capacity from its current 4,700 tons pa. to between 5,700 and 5,950 tons pa. by the first quarter of 2006. In addition, the group is looking at the feasibility of a new 2,000 tons pa. carbonization line in Japan by the third quarter of 2007.

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