TOKYO -- Toray Industries has brought a carbon-fiber parts plant online in Thailand in response to growing demand for such components in race cars, bicycles, bullet train seats and medical equipment.
Parts production subsidiary Toray Carbon Magic launched the plant in the central Thai province of Chonburi, the Japanese parent announced Monday. With 15,000 sq. meters of floor space, the plant is five times the size of the company's existing carbon-fiber parts plant.
The Japanese textile group has been working to boost production capacity in combination with its domestic Maibara plant since late 2014, and is thought to have invested 2 billion yen to 4 billion yen ($17.4 million to $34.8 million). The Thai plant more than doubles its capacity to process carbon-fiber sheets into parts as the company looks to improve competitiveness.
Speaking at a ceremony on Friday to mark the plant's opening, Toray President Akihiro Nikkaku noted: "Opportunities to use carbon-fiber composite materials are increasing with the need to reduce weight accompanying the spread of electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles."
The Thai plant will procure carbon-fiber sheets from the Maibara facility, then shape and coat them for supply to manufacturers around the world.
Ten times the strength of iron while weighing one-fourth as much, carbon fiber is increasingly in demand for use in aircraft- and autoparts. The material is also being used in parts for medical equipment such as wheelchairs and artificial limbs. The Thai plants will turn out parts for a wide range of applications.
Toray is preparing production sites that can handle everything from making sheets from carbon-fiber threads to producing molded parts. Its carbon-fiber business is projected to generate 190 billion yen in sales in fiscal 2015, a 20% increase from the prior fiscal year. By fiscal 2020, the company aims for sales of 300 billion yen.