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Processor inks agreement to guarantee carbon fiber supply

Carbon fiber supply agreements aren't just for German carmakers. Composite plastics processor TenCate Advanced Composites has signed a five-year supply agreement with Toray Industries to guarantee the processor's supply of carbon fiber.

The reference is to BMW and Daimler, both of which have signed agreements to guarantee their own supply of carbon fiber. Daimler's agreement also is with Toray, to develop and mold carbon fiber reinforced plastic parts, while BMW formed a new business with SGL Carbon to build a carbon fiber plant in the U.S.

TenCate and Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) have signed an agreement for the supply of carbon fibers to TenCate for the production of its thermoplastic Cetex RTL semi-finished composites. TenCate (Almelo, the Netherlands) needs the guaranteed supply to help meet it demand for carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic prepreg parts in the aerospace industry, it says. In the near future, predicts the processor, its composite materials and parts could also be used for automotive applications, though  those likely would have a thermoplastic matrix.

The new supply agreement extends through 2015.

Frank Meurs, director of TenCate Advanced Composites EMEA, explains, "Thermoplastic materials are rapidly establishing a meaningful position in a growing amount of aircraft applications, and are also used in structural parts of the latest aircraft. This long-term supply agreement fits to our needs, because it covers our long-term needs based on our contracts with for instance Airbus for the production of the Airbus aircrafts. TenCate Cetex has been used in aircraft applications for more than ten years. TenCate will continue to focus on the market for large commercial aircraft and regional jets with its TenCate Cetex product line." TenCate Aerospace Composites has processing facilities in Europe and North America.

A new product line, though, is in the works, as TenCate and Toray also agreed to study a joint market-product development in thermoplastic composites used for automotive applications. Noted Meurs, "Because Toray Industries is strategically developing carbon fiber in automotive use in addition to aerospace, there is a strategic and technological link with our future developments in this respect. We see a need to cooperate within the value chain in order to speed up the time to market for new materials and processing technologies."

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