TOKYO -- Japanese materials company Teijin will build a carbon fiber plant in the U.S. to bring output of the ingredient used in strong, lightweight composites closer to North American automobile and aerospace factories.
The company said Thursday it will invest a total of 35 billion yen ($313 million) in the new plant and expand production of carbon fiber base material in Japan.
Teijin will establish a wholly owned subsidiary in the U.S. state of South Carolina in December. It has acquired a 1.8-million-sq.-meter site in that state on which it will erect a plant that is to begin operation in fiscal 2020. Capacity has not been disclosed, but the U.S. will become Teijin's third base for carbon fiber production, after Japan and Germany.
At the same time, the company will add acrylic fiber production capacity at a plant in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. The acrylic fibers will be shipped to the U.S., where they will be heated to temperatures over 1,000 C to make carbon fibers.
The plan is to supply the carbon fibers to U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing and European rival Airbus, which has production in the U.S., and parts suppliers for both. Use of carbon fiber composites is growing in the aircraft industry, with slightly more than half of the body of Airbus' next-generation A350 XWB wide-body passenger jet made of these materials, which help boost fuel economy by reducing weight. Carbon fiber composites are also increasingly replacing steel in the auto industry.
Japanese companies hold a more than 50% share of the global market for carbon fibers, with Teijin ranking second, behind Toray Industries.