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Toho Tenax has developed a new prepreg, or carbon fibre sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin, that achieves rapid curing for increased productivity and features excellent surface texture and formability.
According to Toho Tenax, the new prepreg cures in three minutes at 150 degree and minimises resin being expelled from the prepreg due to moulding pressure. The result is an increase in production efficiency by a factor of many dozens, which will allow the company to raise annual production capacity to 50,000 carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) sets.
Toho Tenax has developed its new prepreg initially for automotive applications, but will explore opportunities for aircraft and other fields to further expand its carbon fibres and composites business. Possible new fields include sports and general industry fields thanks to formability at low pressure of around 0.5Mpa. A flame-resistant feature now under development is expected to further expand applications to consumer electronics, vehicles and other general applications.
Prepregs are intermediate materials of thermoset CFRPs used mainly for aircraft and automotive applications. They generally are moulded by a curing process with pressure equipment called an autoclave. Prepregs are layered in the mould, covered by baggings, vacuumed and then pressurised at high temperature. Autoclaved CFRPs have high strength, but they require a long manufacturing cycle time and incur high production costs.
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