Vice Minister for Industry and Technology Kim Jae-hong, Toray
Industries President Akihiro Nikkaku, and Toray Advanced
Materials Korea Chairman Lee young-kwan (unseen)
participate in a ceremony to complete its first plant capable
of mass-producing high-performance carbon fiber and simultaneously
launch the construction of its second carbon fiber plant in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on April 3.
Competition is heating up in the Korean carbon fiber market, dubbed an environmentally-friendly “dream” material. Toray Advanced Materials on April 3 dedicated its first plant capable of mass-producing high-performance carbon fiber at its first plant in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
A ceremony to mark the completion of the carbon fiber plant with an annual capacity of 2,200 tons coincided with a groundbreaking rite to build its second carbon fiber plant with an annual capacity of 2,500 tons.
Toray Advanced Materials is wholly owned by Toray of Japan. In 1999, Toray acquired Toray Saehan, a joint venture between Japan’ s Toray Industries Inc. and Korea Saehan Inc. Toray Inc, which began to produce carbon fiber in 1971, now controls 40 percent of the global carbon fiber market.
Toray Advanced Materials has now become the second company to operate a carbon fiber plant in Korea following Taekwang Industrial, but it is the first firm producing high-performance carbon fiber here.
Carbon fiber has been recognized as an environmentally-friendly “dream”material that can conserve energy by reducing the weight of automobiles, ships, and wind power components and materials. Carbon fiber is 10 times as strong, one-fourth as light, and seven times as elastic as iron. It has many applications in almost all industries ranging from the aerospace, aviation, and automobile fields to shipping and other maritime transportation sectors, new and renewable energy fields, and the electric, electronics, civil engineering, and construction sectors.
Taekwang Industrial, which established a foothold for the first time in Korea, began to mass-produce carbon fiber with the completion of a plant with an annual capacity of 1,500 tons in March 2012. The company primarily produces mid-performance carbon fiber used for sports and leisure gear.
Toray Advanced Materials is differentiating itself from other rivals with the production of high-performance carbon fiber items. Toray Inc. is a global standard-bearer producing high-performance carbon fiber in use for reducing the weight of automobiles and aircrafts.
Toray Advanced Materials Korea Chairman Lee Young-kwan said the findings of a test-operation of the Gumi carbon fiber plant showed their products have been certified to be equal to those of Toray Industries Inc. in terms of quality.
Toray Advanced Materials will have an annual production capacity of 4,700 tons, the largest in Korea, when its second carbon fiber plant goes into operation next March on top of its first carbon fiber plant. The company will supply carbon fiber to customer companies in Korea as well as the United States and China.
Toray Industries President Akihiro Nikkaku said in the dedication ceremony that Korea is an excellent carbon fiber production site with such globalized corporate consumer companies as Samsung and Hyundai Motor, and the country has a competitive edge in terms of cost compared to rival countries, including ones in Southeast Asia.
Hyosung is the third carbon fiber maker in Korea following Taekwang Industrial and Toray Advanced Materials. Hyosung will soon dedicate a carbon fiber plant with an annual production capacity of 2,000 tons. Hyosung plans to invest 1.2 trillion won by 2020 with the goal of raising its carbon fiber production capacity to 17,000 tons. The company has already secured high-performance carbon fiber production technology. GS Caltex is also working on the development of carbon fiber technology with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
The size of the global carbon fiber market is forecast to grow from the current $2 billion to $5 billion in 2020.