Research Content

Carbon Fibers and Composite Materials

From Sports Products, to Industrial Applications, to Environment-friendly Products: Unlocking the Potential of Materials

   Carbon fibers are tough materials with outstanding specific strength, specific elasticity, dimensional stability, vibration damping ability, and heat resistance. They currently enjoy wide use in such fields as sports products, industrial equipment, automobiles, civil engineering, and aerospace. Because of their resistance to corrosion, ecological compatibility, and electrical properties, their range of application is steadily widening. The secret of their superb functionality is the fine graphite crystal structure they acquire in the firing process. As carbon fibers are generally used in combination with resins, their interface with resin as well as resin design play important roles in their application.
   Mitsubishi Rayon has an integrated framework for the research, development, production, and sale of carbon fibers. This covers the polymerization of the raw material acrylonitrile, the spinning of a precursor (special acrylic fibers that serve as the starting material for carbon fibers), firing (the process of manufacturing carbon fibers from acrylic fibers), prepregging (the process of impregnating carbon fibers with resin), molding techniques, and the manufacture of the molded products. We meet a broad range of customer needs through our wide array of technologies, product lines, and product types, backed by the efforts of research teams at the Corporate Research Laboratories, the Composite Materials Development Center, and the Production Technology Laboratories

Precursors and Carbon Fibers

   Mitsubishi Rayon focuses its research on improving the performance and functionality of carbon fibers and on developing more efficient methods of manufacturing. Integrated technological development is crucial because the quality of carbon fibers is closely related to the quality of the precursor materials. Our research covers a broad range, including such basic research as the formation of the fine structure of carbon fibers, the interaction at the interface between carbon fibers and resins, and precursor reactivity and development of carbon fiber properties during firing of precursors, as well as applied research such as the improvement of productivity.
   Through these research activities, we are pursuing the development of the optimal carbon fiber materials for automotive applications and industrial applications such as high-pressure containers and wind electric generator blades, as well as applications in areas such as sports, aviation, and outer space.

Intermediate Materials

UD prepreg
   Carbon fibers are almost never used alone, but as composite materials in combination with resins. In most cases, intermediates are first produced by impregnating carbon fibers in resins, which are then molded and cured. Intermediates are available in a variety of forms depending on their intended use. The most common form is a UD prepreg, which is obtained by impregnating with resin a sheet-like material that has carbon fibers arranged in a single direction. We carry many types of resins for UD prepregs, for application in sporting goods, aircraft, and industry, and our development is aimed at unlocking even more of the useful functions of carbon fibers in order to meet the ever-diversifying needs of users.

Processed Products

shafts of golf clubs
   Prominent processed products using carbon fibers include golf club shafts, rolls for printing, tanks for compressed gas, and parts for railroad cars and automobiles. Mitsubishi Rayon is pursuing research in processed products and processing technology in various fields, utilizing the results of research into carbon fibers, resins, and intermediates, techniques such as finite element methods, and computing tools such as 3D CAD.

Waste Processing and Recycling

    With the great progress in development of high performance carbon fibers and technology for their application, the uses of carbon fiber products have become increasingly varied. These products have been developed to the point where they soon will be widely used in everyone's daily lives, such as in automobiles and household appliances. We are currently engaged in the disposal of wastes generated through this manufacturing, and responding to the problems involved in recycling these products.