Mitsubishi Rayon Co Ltd plans to build a new plant in Vilshofen, Germany, for the production of sheet molding compound (SMC) intermediate materials.

The factory is expected to begin operation in September 2016 with an annual production capacity of 1,000 metric tons, to go up to 6,000 tons as demand increases in the European market.

After completion of the expansion, MRC's overall production capacity will be 9,000 tons, triple the current production capacity at its Toyohashi plant in Japan. 

According to the company, the new plant will reinforce and expand its carbon fiber and composite materials business in Europe following tighter fuel efficiency regulations in the European automobile market and a move toward vehicle weight reduction in mass-produced cars. Using the intermediate materials, elaborate exterior panel parts can be press-molded in a shorter period of time, it says.

SMC consists of fibers several centimeters long dispersed in resin which can be press-molded into automotive parts. When compared to prepreg intermediate materials (carbon fiber fabric impregnated with resin), SMC can be used for molding complicatedly shaped parts in a shorter period of time, Mitsubishi Rayon claims. It has uniform mechanical characteristics similar to metal, lighter weight and higher strength.

This story is reprinted from material from Mitsubishi Rayonwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.