Currently, almost 70% of all commercial carbon fibers are made in Japan, and Japanese aerospace industries are leading in designing, manufacturing and processing of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) structures for aerospace applications. For example, the MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet), a small-sized commercial aircraft now being developed in Japan, relies on CFRP structures for its high performance. In addition, almost 35% of Boeing 787 structures are being made by Japanese industries using mostly CFRP. However, Japan’s lead is being challenged as the US and European governments begin to invest heavily to promote industry-academia collaboration programs on advanced composite structures because of their importance in the near future. At the same time, China and other Asian countries are also working to catch up with Japan by placing strong emphasis on carbon fibers and composites.
Japan’s technological advantage has been established by domestic industries mainly through their own efforts. However, it is now evident that industry-academia collaboration efforts on a more inclusive, nationwide scale are necessary to distinguish Japan’s CFRP manufacturing technology and high performance from those of other countries.
For this reason, we decided to establish TJCC to play such a key role by combining both human and equipment resources of the Department of Advanced Energy at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences and the Composite Research Group of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Both research groups are recognized as world-class research teams in advanced composites with strong academic backgrounds, giving TJCC strong potential to serve as an excellent focal point for Japanese industry-academia collaboration. Research themes can be selected based on matching between the seeds and needs of our participating members through an industry-academia network on advanced composites. TJCC accepts active faculty members of other Japanese universities and researchers from industries in Japan as associate members to form an all-Japan research team.
The following three research targets are being pursued:
- To develop novel composite systems for future industries,
- To develop intelligent and low-cost manufacturing/processing methods, and
- To expand the applications of advanced composites for long life cycles and low carbon emissions.
Our academic advantages in advanced visualization techniques (including an optical fiber sensor network system) and multi-scale computer simulation are fully utilized to develop “smart manufacturing/processing science” to break free from reliance on conventional trial-and-error manufacturing (Fig. 1). We believe this approach can establish strong foundations for strengthening Japan’s aerospace industries and for realizing a safe and sound society with low carbon emissions.
The following research themes (Fig. 2) are currently being pursued:
(1) Manufacturing/Curing, (2) Processing/Characterization, and (3) Maintenance/Management (Life Cycle Monitoring).
Fig. 1 “Smart manufacturing/processing science” based on advanced visualization techniques (including an optical fiber sensor network system) and multi-scale computer simulation.
Fig. 2 Current research themes: (1) Manufacturing/Curing, (2) Processing/Characterization, and (3) Maintenance/Management (Life Cycle Monitoring).
The following collaboration project is now underway:
(a)Structural Health Monitoring of Aircraft Composite Structures Using Optical fiber sensors (SOKEIZAI Center/METI, Development and Manufacturing of Next-generation Aircraft Structures
(b)Process and Life Cycle Monitoring and Quality Assessment of Composite Structures (CAO SIP Program, Innovative Structural Materials, ‘Development of Highly Productive Aircraft Polymer Matrix Composites and Quality Assurance’)