Japanese textile manufacturer Komatsu Seiren makes a variety of fabrics, including some advanced materials. They offered the world a convincing demonstration of their faith in their products with the design of their new fabric laboratory, dubbed “fa-bo”. Created by architect Kengo Kuma, the three-story building is specially reinforced against earthquakes with strands of Komatsu Seiren’s own Cabkoma carbon fiber strand rod.
The rod is actually a bundle of seven strands of carbon fiber and glass fiber composite. The carbon fiber “interlining” is surrounded by a sheath of glass fiber and synthetic fiber, all in a thermoplastic matrix. The company claims the tensile strength of a 5.83mm diameter rod is 38.22 kN (8,592 lbs), or 1.43 kN/mm2 (207,350 psi).
fa-bo is the first major use of the product as earthquake reinforcement. (Komatsu Seiren admits on their website that this reinforcement is in addition to the conventional earthquake reinforcement required by code.) The rods are considerably smaller in diameter, not to mention lighter in weight, than steel reinforcement of equal strength. A 160-meter coil of the rod weighs just 12 kg (26.5 lbs).
The building was originally their main office, but underwent a major renovation that included several other installations of the Cabkoma strand rod on the interior, as well as the very prominent reinforcement on the exterior. Shrouded by the hundreds of fine strands, fa-bo resembles a huge, harp-like musical instrument. (One has to wonder what the tensioned strands sound like in the wind?) It’s certainly a very bold statement of confidence in the composite product.
Images via Komatsu Seiren