The Japanese aerospace industry does not possess superior manufacturing technologies for composite structures. Most, if not all, of the manufacturing technologies the Japanese possess are the same as, or are variations of, those possessed by the U.S. aerospace industry. Yet, using the same manufacturing technologies, the Japanese companies are capable of making production parts of better quality, on schedule, and with less cost in many cases. Why? The answer may be found in areas other than technology:

Although the manufacturing technologies observed in Japan are similar to those in the U.S., there are a few potentially cost-saving technologies worth mentioning:

A qualitative evaluation of how each company fits into the composite picture is shown in Figure 1.14. The three "heavy industries" companies (MHI, KHI, FHI), which represent the Japanese aerospace industry, have essentially equal focus but have slightly different emphases. Because of Japan's small aerospace market there is little opportunity for domestic production; thus, the Japanese are dependent on the global aerospace market. Well developed, long term, focused, applied research will eventually result in lower cost composite assemblies.

Figure 1.14. Composite Focus by Institution Extrapolating from Japan's current status and effort, thermoplastic and RTM/preformed structures may become cost-effective in Japan before they become cost-effective in the U.S., where the effort in those areas has slowed down in recent years.

Automation may take the form of slow, but highly reliable, low man loaded machines which can be run for 24 hours a day without any human intervention. This type of slow automated machine is acceptable in aerospace applications, where production rates are small, and high quality reliable products are required.

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Published: April 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian