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Japan Edit - July/August 2019

News International-French

4 Sep 2019

The Japan Edit is a monthly curation of business news and reports which have a direct impact on the Japanese - and global - composites industry.

MHI announces H-IIB rocket 8

MHI announces H-IIB rocket 8

Last June, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries released the core airframe of the H-IIB (H2B) rocket No. 8 at the Tobishima Plant of Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works.

The launch of the H-IIB rocket No. 8 aims to put the space station supply aircraft Konotori No. 8 (HTV-8) into a predetermined orbit and its controlled drop is then planned in the South Pacific. Since the rocket sinks as it is after dropping into the sea, no recovery work will be necessary. The launch time is currently being coordinated with the relevant agencies.
From the top, the H-IIB rocket No. 8 is composed of the HTV fairing for storing the Konotori (which means “stork” in Japanese) No. 8, the second stage liquid hydrogen tank, and the second stage liquid oxygen tank. A second stage rocket unit consisting of a second stage engine (LE-5B-2) is attached. Then the first stage includes a liquid oxygen tank, a liquid hydrogen tank, and an engine (LE-7A) that consists of two units. Four solid rocket boosters are installed around the first stage rocket.

This launch will be the fifth launch of MHI's transportation service. It will be the first H-IIB launch in about a year since Takatori No.7 (HTV No.7) was launched in September 2018. 
As regards the core of the H-IIB rocket No. 8, a part of the panel frame joint that used to be metal now uses a sandwich panel structure made of urethane materials such as CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced plastics). This new material improves the structure’s strength while reducing its weight.

More information: www.mhi.com - Read the original article

Asahi Breweries and Panasonic jointly developed a highly concentrated cellulose fibre material

Asahi Breweries and Panasonic jointly developed a highly concentrated cellulose fibre material

Asahi Breweries and Panasonic jointly developed a beer mug using a composite material moulded from highly concentrated cellulose fibre. Asahi, a unit of Asahi Group Holdings, expects the mug to be used at outdoor events. In August, it was sold on a trial basis for between 2 and 3 USD. The mug is made of a composite material with a cellulose fibre resin developed by Panasonic making up 55% or more of the material. It can be disposed of as combustible garbage.

The newly developed resin contains 55% or more of a nano- to micro-micronized pulp component originally developed by Panasonic Corporation. The unique mould and resin moulding technology can achieve a unique texture and strength. The company uses the results from a previously commissioned work of the Ministry of the Environment, which was entrusted to Panasonic (FY2015 to 2017 technology development for CO2 emission reduction in a cellulose nanofibre product manufacturing process).

In addition to achieving high shape freedom and reusable strength, Asahi also expects the mug to be used as a souvenir in various events since images and characters can be freely designed. Also, the unevenness of cellulose fibre on the surface of the cup creates lasting fine bubbles of beer.

The high-density cellulose fibre moulding material is mainly made of pulp refined from lumber and other wood, providing the texture of natural wood. Since the colour changes depending on the temperature conditions when forming the cup, the desired colour can be selected from six types. It is an environmentally friendly material that can be classified as a paper product even when it is disposed of, also contributing to the reduction of plastic waste.

In recent years, environmental awareness has led to the widespread use of reusable containers in theme parks, concerts and sports venues. Using designs and images of artists and players on containers to commemorate events increases their value and encourages people to take them home as a souvenir. In August and September this year, events in Japan (Tsukuba Craft Beer Fest 2019, Satoyama Torocco, etc.) will implement the project for these beer mugs called “The Tumblers in the Forest”.

The Asahi Group formulated its Environmental Vision 2050 in February this year. While aiming for zero environmental impact (neutral) in its business activities by 2050, the group is working on new environmental value creation that makes use of its unique technology and knowledge. By promoting the use of environmentally friendly containers through the test deployment of "Tumblers in the Forest", Asahi aims to contribute to a sustainable society through business.

More information: www.asahibeer.co.jp

Demonstration flight of NEC’s “flying car” prototype

Demonstration flight of NEC’s “flying car” prototype

On August 5, Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp. (former name: Nippon Electric Company) unveiled to the press the first flying test of the “flying vehicle” prototype, which was developed as the next-generation transportation method. The test was conducted at the company’s Abiko site (Abiko City, Chiba Prefecture). During the experiment, a lightweight unmanned prototype made of carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) flew at a height of approximately three metres for over several minutes. The company aims to put it into practical use in logistics transportation in 2023, based on a process chart formulated by the government's public-private council.

The prototype has a total length of about 3.9 metres, a width of about 3.7 metres, and a height of about 1.3 metres, flying with four rotor blades. It uses a CFRP monocoque structure and its weight was kept to less than 150 kg. Furthermore, it should be able to fly even with a payload and a total weight reaching 300 kg. Since it is designed to transport cargo, it cannot carry any passengers, but it can fly autonomously using a satellite-based positioning system (GPS).

NEC collects data by testing prototypes while using the company's technology and plans to focus on the development of infrastructure such as “flying car” traffic control or wireless communication between aircrafts. The company intends to actively participate in the aircraft development through a group of young engineers dedicated to developing flying vehicles called “Cartivator”.

More information: www.nec.com - Read the original article

Suncorona Oda to start mass production of carbon fibre “wearable chair” at Komatsu
Suncorona Oda (Komatsu City) uses carbon fibre composites to develop assist suits for factories. The company aims to complete a trial product by the end of the year using the lightweight and strong features of the “wearable chair”, which is attached to a person’s foot, assisting their work when standing. To expand the use of carbon fibre, an experimental plant will be set up for mass production in Komatsu city next summer.

Development will be coordinated with mould manufacturer Nitto (Yokohama City), among others. Wearable chairs are based on a concept of "wearable and walkable chairs", and the company has already developed a medical device that doctors can use during surgery. When wearing it, a person’s upper body is stabilized and the burden of standing work is reduced.

With the increasing number of women working in factories and the ageing of employees, there is a growing demand for assist suits that help the body move fluidly at the manufacturing site. Existing braces use metal parts and are heavy with a single leg weighing 3.2 kg, making weight reduction an issue.

The Flex Carbon carbon fibre-reinforced plastic sheet manufactured by Suncorona Oda can be moulded into complex shapes and mass-produced using a mould. By replacing parts of the device with Flex Carbon, one foot now weighs only about 1 kg.

In line with the expansion of Flex Carbon applications, the company will renovate a plant in Komatsu city next May and introduce machines for mass production. The first step is to increase annual production volume to 10 tons, which is 10 times the current production. The investment will be approximately USD 3,800,000.

Flex Carbon received the Product and Technology Award 2018 of the Advanced Materials Technology Association (SAMPE).

More information: www.sunoda.co.jp - Read the original article