Materials for fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs) are being developed at the Development Center.
Developing Fiber-Reinforced Plastic (FRP) Materials
Specialty paper: Glass fiber paper, aramid fiber paper and, NOW, carbon fiber paper and noble FRP materials.
Introduction and integration of OJI’s special papermaking techniques into new plastic materials development
Oji Holdings possesses a wide range of papermaking technologies, from ordinary paper, which is made with plant fibers (pulp), to specialty paper, which is made with special fibers, such as synthetic and glass fibers. In fact, the Oji Group produces and sells glass fiber paper (available under the trade name GLASPER) and aramid fiber (strong, heat-resistant fibers) paper.
Oji aims to make FRPs that are lightweight, strong and rigid, and that are highly resistant to circumstance stresses. We are doing this by applying special papermaking technologies to form webs of reinforcing fibers, such as carbon, glass, and heat-resistant/flame retardant fibers. These FRP materials will reduce the weight of products, make products easier to carry or move, and lead to the realization of an energy saving, sustainable, recycling-oriented society.
Our FRP materials are sheets (mats) prepared from fibers dispersed in water, using our special papermaking techniques. These sheets (mats) consist of reinforcing fibers (such as carbon or glass fibers) and engineering plastic fibers. The plastic fibers are melted during the hot molding process, encasing the reinforcing fibers, which remain as a web. The hot press molding forms the fiber-reinforced plastic into a molded product.
1) Exploring Papermaking Techniques for Special Fibers
Materials such as carbon fibers possess characteristics completely different from those of the pulp used to make standard papers. For example, they don’t disperse well in water. Therefore, they require special dispersing techniques, supplemental binding materials, and specialized equipment. At the Development Center, fine tuning of papermaking techniques is conducted for each type of fiber, through experiments ranging from laboratory scale web-forming tests to factory scale continuous manufacturing tests on actual production equipment.
A lab test aiming to improve carbon fiber dispersion
A lab sheet formation of carbon fiber paper
A roll of carbon fiber paper manufactured on actual production equipment
Carbon fiber sheets with widths exceeding one meter can be manufactured using production machinery
2) The Advantages of Fiber-Reinforced Plastics Made with Papermaking Technologies
Our fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs), made with papermaking technologies, are made with fibers in lengths anywhere from several millimeters to several centimeters. Compared with conventional FRP materials reinforced by unidirectional or woven continuous fibers, our FRP materials are can be molded into more complex shapes because of the mobility of the short fibers in the melt. This in turn makes it much easier to form curves, protrusions, and reinforcing ribs when pressing the FRP in the mold. Made with the same techniques as paper, our FRPs can literally be made paper thin, which is impossible with weaving or injection molding processes. Another merit of using papermaking technologies is that it allows the use of recycled carbon fibers, necessarily cut short during the recycling process. These recycled fibers come from the aircraft industry and other industries that use carbon fibers.
High degree of freedom in molding
Can be molded into 3D curved shapes
Paper thin pieces can be made
It is possible to make pieces that are 0.1 mm thick,
or even thinner
An example of a piece of FRP with integral
bosses and ribs made with
one shot molding
An example of surface reinforcement
with a paper-thin FRP skin
3) Solution-Oriented Development
We understand that, to introduce a brand new material into the market, it is necessary to do more than just provide the material itself and its specifications. Information and good communication sufficient for making full use of the material, including usage ideas and examples are indispensable. Therefore, at Oji, not only do we develop material, but we even conduct molding tests in our in-house labs and engage in joint trials with molding companies to establish and provide molding solutions for actual use situations.
Investigating Optimum Process Conditions in Lab and Full-scale Molding Trials Based on an Actual Application
A press molding test being conducted
in one of our labs
A press molding test for a large component
4) Analytical Research and Development of Material Design Technology
In order to provide our customers with materials that perform better and offer stable quality, we analyze products and develop suitable analytical methods to gather insights needed for further improvements of our materials. Our goal is to commercialize high performance materials which meet customer needs and uses, at reasonable costs. In order to do this, we are conducting research to understand how to strengthen adhesion between fibers and plastics, optimize fiber orientation and distribution, and design optimal structures, such as layering of different property materials.
Structural Design and Measuring Mechanical Characteristics Such as Strength
Measuring the strength and rigidity of
a molded FRP specimen
A simulation of rigidity and deformation
Improving the Adhesion between Reinforcing Fibers and the Matrix Resin
Fracture surface in the non-improved
FRP specimen. Resin cannot be seen adhering
to the carbon fibers
Electron microscope image 1: fracture test surface
Fracture surface in the improved FRP specimen
Resin can be seen adhering to the carbon fibers
Electron microscope image 2: fracture test surface
Dispersion of Reinforcing Fibers and Control of Orientation
An Analysis of the State of Fibers Inside a Fiber-Reinforced Plastic
An X-ray microtomography image of the
carbon fibers in a specimen of molded FRP
An enlarged view of the cross-section
The width of a single carbon fiber is 7 μm