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Japan Edit - October 2020

News International-French

28 Oct 2020

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

Showa Corporation unveils innovative propeller shafts for light vehicles

The Showa Technology Experience, a series of test drives conducted by Showa Corporation, was held at Shioya Proving Ground in Tochigi prefecture, where a carbon fibre-reinforced plastics propeller shaft that can be mounted on mini-vehicles was unveiled.

Well known for supplying Honda with suspension products, Showa is currently scheduled to integrate Hitachi Automotive Systems, Keihin Corporation and Nissin Kogyo, and become a Hitachi subsidiary. The Showa Technology Experience was held at such a turning point, and the one-piece CFRP propeller shaft attracted attention. Carbon products have already been used for propeller shafts in some supercars and super sports, but there are only few examples of their effective use. The bottlenecks are still cost and mass productivity.

This product is characterized by the fact that the usual 2-piece propeller shaft for transverse-engine 4WD vehicles is now made from a single component. Not specifically aimed at super sports vehicles, this format is also designed for light vehicles.

When made of conventional steel, the 2-piece shaft requires a centre bearing support mainly for resonance countermeasures; but as the one-piece design does not need the support, it leads to lightweight. The carbon shaft was reduced to about half the weight of steel (the prototype is about 4 kg). Since it is possible to achieve a significant weight reduction, fuel efficiency can be further improved, and CO2 emissions can be lowered.

Showa is currently working to adopt this shaft for commercial vehicles scheduled to go on sale around 2025. Carbon propeller shafts may be used in light cars and affordable sports cars.

More information: - Read the original article


Direct bonding technology for thermoplastic CFRP and aluminium alloy

Nippon Avionics uses its precision joining technology to fasten carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic resin (thermoplastic CFRP) and aluminium alloy. The company developed a technology for directly joining dissimilar materials without using adhesives (patent pending).

In recent years, carbon fibre-reinforced resins (thermosetting CFRP), which are lightweight, high-strength materials, have been adopted in aircraft and automobiles as multi-materials using both resin and metal.
However, thermosetting CFRP have disadvantages such as highly difficult secondary processing, the need for refrigeration management, low mass productivity, and difficult recycling.

In the future, precision bonding of thermoplastic CFRP and metal should be adopted in many fields such as small electronics equipment and precision parts, so Nippon Avionics is doing research and development in these two fields.

Until now, the mainstream methods for joining metal and thermosetting CFRP have been adhesive bonding and mechanical joining with bolts. In the new joining method, the surface-treated thermoplastic CFRP and aluminium alloy are directly joined to a small area of about 5 mm x 20 mm using the company’s main joining product, the pulse heat unit. It is possible to obtain a joint strength of 30 MPa in tensile shear strength.

Nippon Avionics
The pulse heat unit applies an electric current to a small metal tool (heater tip) mounted on the pressurizing head to generate heat by resistance, presses the heater tip against the object to be joined, and locally heats with a preset temperature profile. This device joins spots by applying various amounts of pressure.

A thermocouple attached to the heater tip provides a temperature feedback ensuring precise temperature control, so that resin deterioration due to overheating is minimized, and high-quality bonding of dissimilar materials is achieved.

By joining dissimilar materials with this technology, it is possible not only to reduce the size and weight of products, but also to reduce the burden on the environment, eliminate adhesive management, reduce the number of parts and shorten the manufacturing process.

In addition, the surface treatment devised by the company is a dry process that does not use chemicals imparting mechanical and chemical bonding effects, and the bonding area can be selectively surface-treated, thus minimizing the impact on areas that are not involved in the joining process.
Nippon Avionics will further enhance bonding strength and durability, and apply this technology to highly versatile resin materials and other metal materials to expand the application range.

More information: - Read the original article


Archelis FX assist suit: reducing the burden of standing work at the factory

Archelis, Suncorona Oda and Daiwa House Industry developed Archelis FX, an assist suit that reduces the burden of standing work at the manufacturing site.

In Japan’s housing and construction industry, the ageing of the population is becoming a major issue as the labour shortage is a serious problem. According to the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ Labour Force Survey, the number of construction workers decreased from 6.85 million in 1997 to 4.99 million in 2019. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, more than 30% of construction workers are 55 years old or older, and the number of new employees is expected to decrease.

Archelis FX
Even in factories that produce building materials, the physical burden on workers is heavy, and there is an urgent need to improve the working environment to secure employment. In particular, it is difficult to completely robotize tasks such as welding and assembly of steel frame products, and some work has to rely on human hands. As the mid-waist posture continues, the burden on the waist and the accumulation of fatigue have become problems. Therefore, the three companies decided to develop the Archelis FX assist suit that supports long-term mid-waist posture and standing work.

When the worker is in the mid-waist position, he can fix his knees at a certain angle and sit like if in a chair. This reduces by up to 33% the amount of activity of the erector spinae muscles (the largest muscles extending from the pelvis and spine to the head), which are strained when maintaining a standing posture or bending and stretching the hips (data confirmed by Terrabyte, a musculoskeletal analysis software development company).

Archelis FX is a lighter version of the Archelis assist suit for medical professionals, which was developed by Archelis in November 2018 to support long-standing postures during surgery. It was introduced at the Daiwa House Industry factory in November 2019, but it weighs about 3.2 kg per leg, and there was a problem with the applicable work range as the manufacturing site involves mobile work. Therefore, to adapt it for workers at the manufacturing site, the company decided to adopt the Flexcarbon lightweight and high-strength carbon fibre composite material developed by Suncorona Oda. By reducing the weight by about 40%, this material can reduce the physical burden of wearing the assist suit, thus fostering a work environment where diverse human resources such as elderly people and female workers can play an active role.

More information: - Read the original article