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Toray Industries will expand production capacity of its PAN-based carbon fibre, Torayca, in Europe, in order to respond to the mid- to long-term growth in demand for carbon fibre composite materials.
The company plans to build one more line of carbonization facility with capacity of 800 tons per year at its carbon fibre production and sales subsidiary Soficar, based in Abidos, France. The new facility is scheduled to start operation in August 2007.
The total investment will be about 8 billion yen (about USD/EUR 60million), including the investment for expanding capacity of PAN precursor production facility at its Ehime plant. After this expansion, carbon fibre production capacity of Soficar will increase to 3,400 tons per year (currently 2,600 tons per year) and Toray Group’s production capacity is expected to expand to 13,900 tons a year in August 2007.
This planned expansion in production capacity is aimed at enhancing the group’s supply structure for secondary structural elements used in aircraft applications, whose demand is expected to surge mainly in Europe and for 3k and 6k products for general industrial use.
As of 2005, the global demand for PAN-based carbon fibres is estimated at approximately 25,000 tons a year. The demand is expected to grow at a rate exceeding 10% a year, reaching 34,000 tons in 2008. Toray previously embarked on a series of large-scale investments, mainly in 12k and 24k products that are widely used in applications ranging from primary structural elements for aircrafts to industrial use. These investments include the new facilities at Soficar that started operation in October 2004 and the facilities at CFA in the U.S. starting operation in early 2006, followed by those at its Ehime Plant expected to go into operation in early 2007. The announced enhancement in capacity this time is aimed at further promoting its strategic expansion of the carbon fibre composite material business by strengthening the production system for low k fibres.
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