University / Research institute

December 11, 2013


NEDO Team Develops New Weight-Saving Plastic for Car Chassis

Keywords: Manufacturing industry University / Research institute 

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced on September 3, 2013, that they have developed a new carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) and a molding technique for the CFRTP, together with the University of Tokyo, TORAY, Mitsubishi Rayon, Takagi Seiko, and others. This new plastic is made by using a thermoplastic resin as a matrix which is easy to mold when heated.

Conventional carbon composite materials have been mainly carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) using a thermosetting resin as a matrix, which is hardened by heating and is not softened by reheating. They have some disadvantages, however, such as that CFRPs are difficult to design, are not homogeneous materials like metal, take a lot of time to mold, and are expensive.

To overcome these challenges, CFRTPs are made by using a polypropylene resin, a thermoplastic resin that softens when heated and hardens when cooled. This material can be used in the mass-production of cars, and is expected to contribute to the lightening of automotive chassis (about 30% lighter than current chassis), a reduction in energy consumption, and so on.

The team also successfully developed techniques for high-speed stamping molding, and high-speed internal-pressure molding and bonding, which are techniques necessary for producing automotive structural members. The polypropylene resin being recyclable also suggests the possibility of attaining a closed-loop recycling system spanning the production process and the entire life of the product.