Table 5.1 compares a February 1992 Toray worldwide market forecast for pan-based carbon fiber with a similar U.S. SACMA study made at the same time. There are some minor differences in the forecasted uses in 1989 and 1990, but the forecasts are essentially identical from 1991 to 1995. Table 5.2 is Toray's assessment of the world production capacity for pan-based carbon fiber. It too is in agreement with U.S. assessments. These two tables indicate that the world market utilized just over 50% of capacity in 1992 and would utilize only 81% in 1995, assuming no new capacity was added.

It is also interesting to look at the Japanese market versus the Japanese capacity in 1992 (27% utilization) and in 1995 (33% utilization) to see how important exports are to their carbon fiber industry. The U.S. market is projected to grow by 74% between 1992 and 1995, whereas the Japanese market is forecasted to grow only 21%.

Toray, which entered the carbon fiber market in 1969, is now the recognized world leader in carbon fiber. Toray is totally integrated -- from precursors to spinning, carbonizing to graphitizing, weaving and braiding preprocess -- and is aggressively expanding its fabricated structures business.

Table 5.1
Worldwide Demand for Pan-Based Carbon Fiber

Table 5.2
World Production Capacity for Pan-Based Carbon Fiber

In 1984, Toray opened a carbon fiber operation in France and will shortly commission a prepreg plant in the U.S. The company has the widest available range of carbon fibers, with eight different strength and modulus combinations. Toray's family of carbon fibers is shown in Figure 5.1. Their fibers have extremely low rates of deviation in product quality, which ensures superior handling and processability; this is a result of Toray's comprehensive product quality control system.

Figure 5.1. Toray's Family of Carbon Fibers

Table 5.3 summarizes the world production capacity for pitch-based carbon fiber, which is almost totally based in Japan. The source of the pitch precursor is coal for three suppliers, and petrol for the other five. The economics of pitch versus pan-based fiber is not clear.

Table 5.3
World Production Capacity for Pitch-Based Carbon Fiber

The fiber property data for Mitsubishi Kasei's coal tar pitch-based carbon fiber, Dialead, is shown in Table5.4. The fiber is available in chopped and continuous form with tensile moduli ranging from 25 to 110 million psi. Composites made with these fibers would exhibit marginal interlaminar and tensile strengths and very low compressive strengths when compared to pan-based fibers.

Published: April 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian