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Toray makes $15M upgrade at Decatur carbon fiber facility

DECATUR — Carbon fiber is a key, though not-so-well-known, element of America’s weapons systems.

And, as is locally known, a lot of those systems are managed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.

So, naturally, it would make sense for a local plant to produce the carbon fiber and that’s where Toray Composite Materials America comes in.

A manufacturer of advanced composites, Toray recently celebrated a $15 million upgrade of its carbon fiber production line in its Decatur plant.

In a news release, the company said the upgrade doubles the production capacity of its TorayCa T1100 carbon fiber and adds critical redundancy to support the rising demand for defense applications. The T1100 carbon fiber is vital to several Department of Defense weapons systems and the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

“I am thrilled to see Toray’s commitment to investments in Decatur and North Alabama,” said U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Monrovia). “Toray provides high performance carbon fibers which are critical to our defense industrial base and national security.

“I want to thank them for their investment in Alabama and wish them continued success.”

Maj. Gen. Tom O’Connor, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, participated as the featured guest in a policy discussion led by former Commander of the Army Material Command, retired Gen. Paul Kern. The discussion focused on the importance of a strong domestic industrial base following the the recent release of the Department of Defense’s inaugural National Defense Industrial Strategy.

“Our team in Decatur worked tirelessly to advance the commissioning of our upgraded carbon fiber production line to support the strong demand from the defense industry,” said Dennis Frett, president of Toray Composite Materials America. “As the DoD prioritizes developing a resilient supply chain as part of the NDIS, Toray’s focus is to ensure that we are doing our part to produce and increase material availability for various defense programs.”

Toray is the largest carbon fiber and prepreg producer in the United States. The Decatur plant has operation lines from precursor to carbon fiber and is one of three Toray manufacturing facilities.

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