Nikkei: Japanese steelmakers and chemical manufacturers focusing on new solutions for vehicle lightweighting
The Nikkei reports that Japanese steelmakers and chemicals manufacturers are developing new materials and components that will make vehicles far lighter, and bolster their competitive position against overseas rivals. Japanese automakers are increasingly procuring parts and materials overseas due to the strong yen, the report noted.
Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. has developed technology capable of processing high-intensity steel tubes into auto bodies and slashing the weight by up to half. A new heat-treatment process makes it possible to form steel tubes into complicated shapes while at the same time makes the tubes 150% stronger.
Toray Industries Inc. and Teijin Ltd. are working to develop technology for producing carbon fiber at low cost.
DIC Corp. will build a production line for polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), a high-function resin, at its Kashima plant in Ibaraki Prefecture. PPS has been drawing greater attention as a lightweight alternative to metal. It is used in components around engines and control parts inside motors. DIC controls roughly 30% of the global PPS market. The new production line will have an annual capacity of 5,500 tons and become fully operational in 2015.