Toshiba Materials has announced plans to invest approximately Y7bn in the construction of its second silicon nitride ball production facility in Japan.

Planned to be built at the company’s Oita Operations site in northern Kyushu, the new facility is expected to significantly boost Toshiba’s production capacity for silicon nitride balls for use in electric vehicles.

The facility is scheduled to become operational in 2026.

The Oita facility, upon reaching its full production capability, is expected to boost nitride ball capacity 2.5 times compared to that of 2022.

The company said that it will carry on the ‘stable supply of quality products’ and support the increased adoption of ‘environmentally friendly electric vehicles’.

Toshiba said that the continued electrification of cars necessitates performance enhancements.

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The incorporation of motors, inverters, and decelerators in a system is one way to boost performance. However, this could raise the possibility of electrolytic corrosion within the vehicle’s motor bearings.

To address this issue, hybrid bearings can be used as they replace standard steel balls with ceramic balls with steel inner and outer races, the company said.

Ceramic balls are also said to offer benefits such as superior strength, wear resistance, and insulation compared to their steel counteracts.

In July last year, Toshiba Materials announced that it was investing in a new silicon nitride balls production facility built at its headquarters site in Yokohama.