Researchers at the Center for Advanced Die Engineering and Technology at Gifu University and Central Fine Tool Co Ltd. have co-developed a new technology that is expected to reduce vehicle weight. Their plastic gear wheel reinforced with carbon fiber fabric is so strong that it may be used in the future to replace metal parts in cars.

The pressure applied to the tooth surface of a gear results in tensile stress on the bottom of the tooth. Researchers added carbon fibers to run through each tooth of a gear wheel to reduce tensile stress and strengthen the part. The gears are easier and cheaper to produce because carbon fiber is used only in very small amounts.

Gifu University has applied for patents for the carbon fiber fabric, the mold and the gear wheel. They hope to commercialize the product by 2017. The gear wheel could one day replace metal gear wheels used in cars and other vehicles, resulting in lighter weight and longer product life.