Author Topic: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX  (Read 73969 times)

Online Ronsmytheiii

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Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« on: 08/16/2016 05:30 pm »
Quote
PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Japanese materials maker Toray Industries has entered into an agreement to supply carbon fiber to U.S. space flight startup SpaceX for use in the bodies of rockets and space vehicles.

The multiyear deal with Tesla founder Elon Musk's 14-year-old venture is estimated to be worth 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen ($1.99 billion to $2.98 billion) in total. The two sides are aiming to finalize the agreement this fall after hammering out prices, time frames and other terms.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Deals/Toray-carbon-fiber-to-carry-SpaceX-s-Mars-ambitions

We know how SpaceX loves to bring things in-house, so must be impressive and necessary technology for such a large deal.

Online RotoSequence

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #1 on: 08/16/2016 05:34 pm »
$2 to $3 billion dollars of carbon fiber yarn? Wow.  :o

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #2 on: 08/16/2016 05:36 pm »
Quote
PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Japanese materials maker Toray Industries has entered into an agreement to supply carbon fiber to U.S. space flight startup SpaceX for use in the bodies of rockets and space vehicles.

The multiyear deal with Tesla founder Elon Musk's 14-year-old venture is estimated to be worth 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen ($1.99 billion to $2.98 billion) in total. The two sides are aiming to finalize the agreement this fall after hammering out prices, time frames and other terms.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Deals/Toray-carbon-fiber-to-carry-SpaceX-s-Mars-ambitions

We know how SpaceX loves to bring things in-house, so must be impressive and necessary technology for such a large deal.
Yes and if demand increases enough, it could result in TI opening a factory near a SpaceX location in the future as they do not have any North American facilities. It has been a goal in recent years to open a North American facility. Boeing already uses TI fibers for some B-787 family parts.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 05:40 pm by russianhalo117 »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #3 on: 08/16/2016 05:37 pm »
SpaceX only builds things in-house when they can't be sourced more economically elsewhere. Toray must have given them a good deal, considering how much money the contract is for. The BFR and BFS must need a lot of carbon fiber!
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Offline docmordrid

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #4 on: 08/16/2016 05:40 pm »
Hmmmm....shifting years for the big gun?

Quote
SpaceX is switching to carbon fibers from aluminum as it develops heavy rockets for carrying people and large quantities of material. A lighter body would allow more cargo to be loaded, which would cut transport costs.
DM

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #5 on: 08/16/2016 05:48 pm »
Yes and if demand increases enough, it could result in TI opening a factory near a SpaceX location in the future as they do not have any North American facilities. It has been a goal in recent years to open a North American facility. Boeing already uses TI fibers for some B-787 family parts.

From the article...

Quote
The likely plans is to supply carbon fiber sheets from a Toray production center in Alabama, with SpaceX to further process the material into end products. Adding dedicated production lines at a South Carolina plant will be considered if SpaceX's demand for carbon fiber grows as expected.

And Toray's web site (not updated since the mid-'00s)...

Quote
Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. began producing TORAYCA carbon fibers in Decatur, Alabama in 1999, at a site established expressly for that purpose. The Decatur facility houses the world's largest single carbon fiber production line, with a nominal capacity of 4 million pounds per year (1,800 tons per year), which will be expanded to 8 million pounds per year (3,600 tons per year), by early 2006.

http://www.toraycfa.com/

And here's an article on the groundbreaking for the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant early this year...

http://www.spartanburgcounty.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=23

And another article with some more detail...

Quote
The company already makes carbon fiber at a plant in Decatur, Alabama, and sheets of carbon fiber-re-enforced composite called “prepreg” at a plant in Tacoma, Washington.

The Moore plant will be a “super site” that will make both products, Myers said.

He said the new production capacity in South Carolina will help Toray support its biggest carbon fiber customer, The Boeing Co., including production of the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet in North Charleston and the 777X to be made in the Seattle area.

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/money/business/2015/08/27/big-potential-seen-toray-plant/32464769/
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 06:00 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #6 on: 08/16/2016 06:06 pm »
I wouldn't bet the farm on one reporter saying "is estimated"with no source.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #7 on: 08/16/2016 06:15 pm »
This makes sense. Toray is really the only option for this high of a grade of carbon fiber. Just getting a sample of it is hard.

And there will need to be billions of dollars of carbon fiber for BFR and BFS at the number that are needed for Mars.


There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

Get ready for BFR, folks. Hold on to your butts.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 06:34 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online RotoSequence

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #8 on: 08/16/2016 06:22 pm »
There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

That would surprise me a bit; I'm under the impression that most of the weight of carbon fiber reinforced composite is in the resin, and in stress tests, the resin always seems to fails first.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 06:22 pm by RotoSequence »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #9 on: 08/16/2016 06:25 pm »
At $1000/kg (T1000 costs about $2000/kg, so I'm assuming some cost reduction), 30 tons of carbon fiber per BFS, and 100 new BFSes per year (needed to maintain 1000 BFS in use needed for ~80,000 colonists per year, since each BFS can only be reused about 12 times), that works out to about $3 billion worth of carbon fiber per year. Not counting cargo missions or the BFR booster first stage (which could be reused hundreds of times, so may actually end up a smaller portion of the carbon fiber demand).

Works out to about $30,000 worth of carbon fiber per round trip ticket. $30 million per BFS made.
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Online obi-wan

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #10 on: 08/16/2016 06:28 pm »
There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

That would surprise me a bit; I'm under the impression that most of the weight of carbon fiber reinforced composite is in the resin, and in stress tests, the resin always seems to fails first.
Resin (or, more generically, the "matrix") carries no global load, and has little tensile strength - it only exists to transfer shear stress between fibers, so (as in a rope) if one fiber breaks, the load is transferred via shear to the others around it. Manufacture of aerospace composite structures seeks to minimize the amount of matrix and maximize the fiber content, contingent on ensuring full coating throughout the material of all sides of all fibers.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #11 on: 08/16/2016 06:29 pm »
There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

That would surprise me a bit; I'm under the impression that most of the weight of carbon fiber reinforced composite is in the resin, and in stress tests, the resin always seems to fails first.
True, not as much work lately has gone into optimizing the fiber itself. But remember that a pressure-stabilized rocket (like SpaceX makes) is actually tension-dominated, and tensile strength with a properly wound pressure vessel is dominated by the properties of the reinforcement. So it would make sense to improve the fiber properties in this case.

You have an application that's extremely mass-sensitive (going to Mars and back!), that is tensile-dominated (propellant tanks), and that is going to need ENORMOUS amounts of carbon fiber. Makes sense to give improving the properties of the fiber a shot.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 06:30 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #12 on: 08/16/2016 06:31 pm »
There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

That would surprise me a bit; I'm under the impression that most of the weight of carbon fiber reinforced composite is in the resin, and in stress tests, the resin always seems to fails first.
That's true and part of the reson smaller fibers aren't that simple. The resin thickness doesn't scale down easily with fiber thickness, so the ratio tends to go the wrong way.
 At least with the stuff I've worked with, the more resin you use, the weaker the final product.
 I know that one big reason fhe 787 hull didn't do as well as hoped weight wise was the need for a bronze mesh to handle lightning. Carbon conducts fine, but not when the fibers are sheathed in resin.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2016 06:35 pm by Nomadd »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #13 on: 08/16/2016 06:31 pm »
There's even the possibility of SpaceX working with Toray to develop even better carbon fiber. There's room for improvement in increasing the specific strength of the fiber itself if you just reduce the diameter of the individual filaments. Costs more to produce that way, but worth it for something going to Mars and back a dozen times.

When each kilogram of weight saved is worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle, it makes sense to maximize the benefit. Such a close relationship will enable that. And the sheer amount of carbon fiber required will necessitate such a close relationship anyway.

That would surprise me a bit; I'm under the impression that most of the weight of carbon fiber reinforced composite is in the resin, and in stress tests, the resin always seems to fails first.
That's true and part of the reson smaller fibers aren't that simple. The resin thickness doesn't scale down easily with fiber thickness, so the ratio tends to go the wrong way.
Resin development is also important.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online guckyfan

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #14 on: 08/16/2016 06:33 pm »
If confirmed, this volume is not for just getting to Mars and establish a base. It sounds like colonization level. For building a base, 2 or 3 MCT per launch window would be enough. And as they fly many times it just takes 3 or 4 vehicles.

Offline philw1776

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #15 on: 08/16/2016 06:57 pm »
Upper stage mass reduction is always more important than 1st, booster stage, but in the case of BFR/BFS even more so for the BFS.  First the BFS must reach LEO. Delta V for given mass. No different than other 2 stages so far.
But then under one mission scenario the BFS is again fueled in LEO (you really want to minimize tanker flights) and does its delta V thingy again to get its skinny ass to Mars and EDL.  That's a 2nd benefit from the rocket equation besides the delta V to LEO.  Finally, the BFS is yet again refueled on Mars and delta Vs home again.  Any mass reduction to the upper stage pays serious refueling dividends.
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Offline First Mate Rummey

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #16 on: 08/16/2016 07:00 pm »
Would it make sense to use it for falcon first stage, once it can be routinely reused?

Offline philw1776

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #17 on: 08/16/2016 07:03 pm »
Would it make sense to use it for falcon first stage, once it can be routinely reused?

I would think not because of the engineering effort and timeframe.  Plus raising the cost of a booster.  Big bucks vs aluminum. A low weight stronger F9 stage one would be nice but engineering time & $ are finite.  Musk said just this year that engineering resources mitigated against developing S2 recovery at least for the next few years.
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Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #18 on: 08/16/2016 07:15 pm »
If confirmed, this volume is not for just getting to Mars and establish a base. It sounds like colonization level. For building a base, 2 or 3 MCT per launch window would be enough. And as they fly many times it just takes 3 or 4 vehicles.

They are probably also envisaging the use of the system components elsewhere, even if the design is optimised for Mars.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Toray carbon fiber wins deal with SpaceX
« Reply #19 on: 08/16/2016 07:55 pm »
SpaceX only builds things in-house when they can't be sourced more economically elsewhere. Toray must have given them a good deal, considering how much money the contract is for. The BFR and BFS must need a lot of carbon fiber!

Material science know-how is true IP.  Not so easy to "just bring in-house".

What SpaceX has traditionally brought in house were things that "if you put your mind to it", you can do on your own, but other vendors preferred to avoid the hassle.

I don't think pricing was the issue here.
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