Toyota develops optical fiber-woven cloth

Toyota Boshoku Corp has developed an optical fiber-woven cloth. When used for a door trim or roof, the cloth can realize an interior that vividly emits light at night.

The company said it will promote the use of the cloth, targeting Toyota Motor Corp’s Lexus brand of luxury cars and high-class vehicles manufactured by Europe-based automakers. It aims to commercialize the cloth in 2020.

As light sources, Toyota Boshoku employed red, green and blue (RGB) LEDs (light-emitting diodes) so that the color of light can be changed in accordance with the tastes of passengers. For example, it enables to make door trim and roof emit green light in normal times and red light in emergency situations.

Because optical fibers are woven in the cloth, it can also be used as a seat cover. However, Toyota Boshoku said the texture of optical fiber is not very good, making is difficult to apply the cloth to auto seats.

Optical fiber used as woof

“We used our own technique of weaving optical fibers into cloth while preventing the fibers from being bent,” Toyota Boshoku said in a press release.

An optical fiber sends light through a fiber-like pipe made of glass or plastic, and light emission occurs because of the reflection of the light. When the curvature of optical fiber is increased too much, it becomes difficult for light to pass through it, making light emission unstable.

Toyota Boshoku developed the technology to weave optical fibers while maintaining their linear shape and developed a weaving machine for that purpose. The new technology replaces part of a woof with optical fibers. For the future, the company aims to reduce costs by improving the production efficiency of the machine.

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