Toray Industries, Inc. has embarked upon mass production of its environment-friendly fiber materials based on polylactic acid (PLA) and plant-derived polyesters for automobile applications. The Japanese producer is targeting first year sales figures at 200 tons for automotive products including ceiling upholstery and door trim materials. Toray plans o ramp up production to 5,000 tpa by 2015 as it promotes the products to other automakers besides its existing customer Toyota Motors. Toray currently supplies the materials for trunk and floor carpeting to Toyota’s latest hybrid model of Lexus.
To achieve the high levels of durability needed in the automotive industry, Toray has developed various technologies for compounding environment-friendly materials with petroleum-based products, including a proprietary hydrolysis control technology to modify polymer and techniques for compounding using polymer alloys and in the process of fiber spinning as well as mixed fiber compounding during higher processing.
Toray plans to focus on further development of materials with higher plant-derived biomass percentage and increase applications as general apparel and industrial materials.