COLLABORATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Beyond the collaborations between competing firms in the two large associations detailed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, there are a number of smaller collaborations that are of interest and worth mentioning.

The Shimizu Corp. has a strong research collaboration in the area of external rehabilitation and retrofit using fabric based materials with the Tonen Corp., for which they conduct a significant amount of basic research and development. Tonen is not a conventional Japanese firm, but a multinational joint venture between Exxon, Mobil and the Tonen Chemical Corp. These companies have financial stakes of 25%, 25% and 50%, respectively.

Although the Tonen Corp. is aggressively developing and marketing its FORCA tow sheet technology, if does not use any of its own carbon fibers (pitch based) in them. Carbon, glass and aramid fibers are bought from a number of material suppliers, including from their competitors, and are then manufactured into tow sheet form by Tonen. The company has a strong relationship with Nippon Steel for the supply of high modulus pitch based carbon fiber.

Although the tow sheet, Replark, and Torayca cloth technologies are competing products, there is considerable collaboration between the companies outside the CFRRA with some cross licensing of patents and technologies. CFRRA reports that the companies feel the need for the development and deployment of a minimum of three competing products to meet the requirements of the Japanese Ministry of Construction for open bidding on a project. Competing products are often used on the same project site, enabling different companies to claim the project. This may result in an artificial inflation of quantities of materials used and total number of projects completed.

In the area of seismic retrofit of columns and chimneys, Mitsubishi Chemical has two competing collaborations. The first is with Obayashi Corp. in the automated wet winding of carbon tows (through a branch the CFRRA called CRS), and the second, through another branch of the CFRRA, is called CF Renaissance and uses Mitsubishi's own product, Replark.

The only international collaborations appear to be on the aramid fiber side. Within aramid reinforcements in sheet form, the DuPont Co. appears to have strong collaboration with the aramid-based association through Toray and the FITS system, and AKZO (Netherlands) is collaborating with Kajima Corp. and Nippon Aramid Co., Ltd. for Arapree tendons. Despite the strong and significant involvement of both DuPont and AKZO in the U.S. advanced composites market, neither product has been introduced in the United States.

Presumably to speed deployment and ultimate acceptance of products, a number of demonstration projects have been undertaken using competing systems, such as combinations of (a) tow sheet, Replark and Torayca cloth, and (b) CFCC, Leadline and Arapree tendons. While some of these are no doubt initiated by the Ministry of Construction or the Japan Highways Corp., others are initiated by the companies themselves.


Published: November 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian