Gangke Carbon Materials based in Taiyuan is a leading supplier of high-performance carbon fiber in China. [Photo by Zhang Yi for China Daily]
During the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in February, the carbon fiber sledges and helmets won praise from the athletes that used them and drew attention from industry insiders for their high strength and light weight.
The products were made by Shanxi-based Gangke Carbon Materials, based on their patented carbon fiber technologies.
Called "black gold" by industry insiders, carbon fiber is a new, high value-added material with wide-ranged applications. In addition to making sports gear, it is also a strategic material used in the aeronautical and astronautical industries, according to executives of the company.
Founded in 2012, Gangke Carbon Materials is a subsidiary of Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group, a leading steelmaker in Shanxi province.
It began its research, development and production of carbon fiber products five years ago. It boasts three fully automated production lines for making polyacrylonitrile carbon fiber materials, with an annual production capacity reaching 2,400 metric tons. It is now one of the leading suppliers of high-performance carbon fiber in China and has been recognized as a national-level high-tech company.
Company executives said the company's success can be attributed to its steadily improving R&D capacity and its close collaborations with research institutions, universities and downstream enterprises.
The company now boasts a strong R&D team of 80 researchers and engineers.
Its R&D system comprises three provincial-level innovation centers and a number of studios named after the leading and outstanding researchers.
According to Yang Han, head of the Yang Han Studio, the studios are so named to encourage enthusiasm for innovation among research staff members.
Yang's contributions included his bold attempt to upgrade the production line with the adjustment of some key technological parameters, which has led to a onefold increase in efficiency.
The company's other incentives to encourage staff members' initiatives in innovation also include granting equity shares to remarkable contributors in research, according to Yang.
In addition, the company has established close partnerships with China's leading research institutions including the Chemical Institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai-based Fudan University to make use of their advantageous research resources and results.
It has also closely collaborated with clients for the design and development of new products tailored to specific demands.
Responding to substantially increasing market demands, Taiyuan Iron & Steel is planning additional investment in Gangke Carbon Materials, which will be used in building two production lines and one test line.
With such new facilities in place, Gangke Carbon Materials is expected produce 6,000 tons of high-performance carbon fiber products by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), according to company executives.
Wang Pei contributed to this story.