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Shukei “Daniel” Inui, Teijin Group Corporate Officer, General Manager, Carbon Fibers Business Unit, Teijin Limited

While OEMs in the aeronautics business have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, Teijin Limited is pursuing development of new types of fibres and taking part in the changes in aviation that will usher in creation of tomorrow’s aircraft. Shukei “Daniel” Inui, Teijin Group Corporate Officer, General Manager, Carbon Fibers Business Unit, Teijin Limited, lays out the group’s perspectives for the future and shares what’s at stake in this new, post-pandemic era.

Shukei “Daniel” Inui, Teijin Group Corporate Officer, General Manager, Carbon Fibers Business Unit, Teijin Limited
READING TIME

4 minutes, 20 secondes

JEC Composites Magazine: At the end of October, Teijin and Safran made the announcement that they had signed a framework agreement for the supply of composite materials in order to develop future generations of aircraft. Can you tell us more about the scope of this agreement, and on strengthening your partnership on the matter?
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: We have been supplying high-performance materials to Safran for the last 25 years. This agreement with Safran is a milestone in our long and trustful relationship and will strengthen our position as a reliable material supplier to the aircraft industry. We are sure the contract establishes the frame for the supply of our high-performance materials and composites dedicated to the manufacturing of equipment parts for new generation aircrafts. With Safran, we will deliver innovative products and solutions, answering the industry’s needs for well-processable, cost efficient and sustainable lightweight materials.

JEC Composites Magazine: What operational advantages, and market prospects are expected to come out of this agreement? (i.e., what benefits do both parties expect to reap from controlling the price volatility of composite materials as a result of this agreement?)
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: We are enhancing our capabilities in cost effective carbon fibres with higher tenacity and higher tensile modulus and intermediate materials including Tenax® TPUD, carbon fibre thermoplastic consolidated laminate Tenax® TPCL, thermoset prepregs, non-crimp fabric (NCF) and resin transfer moulding (RTM) technology. We expect that our agreement with Safran will offer the aerospace industry wider options to choose the most suitable materials to meet the requirements that differ from the aircraft parts.

Tenax™ ThermoPlastic UniDirectional (TPUD)

JEC Composites Magazine: Will the supply of these materials apply to a specific range, or will it be a part of your overall strategy to increase composite material penetration in the aeronautics sector?
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: As stated in the group’s Strategic Focus in its Medium-term Management Plan for 2020–2022, we are pushing forward our development of mid- to downstream applications for aircraft, targeting annual sales in this field of more than USD 900 million by around 2030. We obviously understand the movement and changes in the aircraft production environment due to the present crisis, however we firmly believe that our new material developments offer such advantages from a performance and cost perspective, that we will be well positioned to benefit once build rates start to improve.

JEC Composites Magazine: We hear a lot about new generation aircrafts, in terms of engines, energy— whether hydrogen, electric or hybrid, and materials. What is your vision of tomorrow’s airplane? Do you think the aeronautics sector will go back to the way it was pre-COVID-19, or will we witness a change in paradigm? How market evolution? The COVID-19 crisis, and in particular the various lockdowns implemented across the world, has shaken up practices at production sites (and also research centres). What impact has this situation had on your composite activities? What lessons or opportunities have you drawn from this period of crisis?
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: We firmly believe that the aerospace market has already changed its position, to consider not just product cost and performance, but to add a key third element, that of sustainability, to future material and part selection. As a material and composites manufacturer, we have already developed materials that offer process cycles which reduce part production to a few minutes (both in thermosetting and thermoplastic processing). The Teijin long term view is for circular sustainability of all future materials offered for aircraft production for both new materials and we will strengthen our development in recycled materials for mass production to meet the global demands.

“Teijin has developed new cost effective rapid curing thermoset prepreg materials. We also have thermoplastic prepregs that significantly reduce production time to enable better cost efficiency.”

Shukei “Daniel” Inui, Teijin Group Corporate Officer, General Manager, Carbon Fibers Business Unit, Teijin Limited

The number of aircraft operations has dropped sharply due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. Aircraft production rates have been lowered across the board because of take-back delays and order cancellations by aircraft manufacturers. The entire supply chain also reacts negatively to lower production rates. It is said that it will take three to four years for the market in the industry to recover to the 2019 level and we are concerned about the impact over the mid- to long term. Also, the financial situation of aircraft manufacturers caused delays in some of their projects for future aircrafts. We do not change our policy in our management plan but will accurately switch the status of future programme schedules to understand and meet customers’ needs.

JEC Composites Magazine: Beyond composites that use organic matrix composites, what development possibilities is Teijin exploring with regards to other types of composite materials for use in aviation?
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: Teijin has developed new cost effective rapid curing thermoset prepreg materials. We also have ther¬moplastic prepregs that significantly reduce production time to enable better cost efficiency. Our NCF ma¬terials and other technologies meet demands from the industry and we will accelerate our promotion in to¬tal cost reduction using our materials and processing methods to enable time reduction in development and qualifications.

JEC Composites Magazine: Apart from aeronautics, is Teijin preparing new composite materials supplier agreements on other applica¬tion sectors?
Shukei “Daniel” Inui: Our carbon fibre prod¬ucts are already used for variety of applications including wind power generation, pressure vessels, civil en¬gineering reinforcements, sports and leisure goods and compound. We especially expect that demand for carbon fibre-based materials for the hydrogen economy–especially for pressure vessel applications for hy¬drogen fuel tanks–will increase par¬ticularly in Europe, and we are par¬ticipating in some relevant projects from the initial stages. Also, most of our production lines can produce non-aircraft grades to meet demands in other industries and are trying to maximize our capacity even in this situation.

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