Toho Tenax has partnered with Kawasaki Heavy Industries to jointly develop a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) leaf spring that can be mass-produced for railcar trucks, reducing the truck frame’s weight by some 900 kg per railcar.
The leaf spring was initially developed in 2013 and is already used in Kawasaki’s new-generation railcar truck, the efWING (pictured).
Toho Tenax will help establish an integrated system encompassing everything from the carbon fiber’s original yarn to the actual CFRP leaf springs. The new mass-production system will enable the efWING to be marketed on a global scale.
Teijin Group, Toho Tenax’s parent company, says it aims to expand its carbon fiber and composite businesses by focusing on the transportation sector.
Conventional railcar trucks use side frames and independent coil springs made of steel. Toho Tenax says the efWING is the first to combine these components in a product made of CFRP.
Earlier this year Ford and DowAksa said they were accelerating joint research to develop high-volume manufacturing techniques for automotive-grade carbon fiber.