BreakThrough Interview

Unprecedented "flexible waveguide" for supporting data transmission in the high-capacity eraYONEZAWA BUSSAN Co.,Ltd


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"Yonezawa Bussan Co., Ltd." is a manufacturer of narrow textiles. The company has 65 employees and does business in interior materials, miscellaneous materials for apparel, and industrial materials. Through corporate collaboration that utilizes advanced textile technology refined over nearly 70 years of history, Yonezawa Bussan has developed a "flexible waveguide" which has attracted attention as a promising data transmission channel in the 5G era. In this way, Yonezawa Bussan is taking on the new challenge of "weaving metal" and has successfully expanded into the IT field. We spoke to Toshiki Yonezawa, President and CEO of the company, who discussed an overview of products and his thoughts on corporate collaboration.

Unique double-layered structure achieves high overall power for data transmission

Wired data transmission lines that can stably transmit large amounts of data are essential to the progress of the digital revolution. However, conventional products have both advantages and disadvantages.

"Coaxial cables provide versatility and cost benefits; however, they are inferior in terms of large capacity and high speed communication. Optical fibers have the advantages of high speed communication and large capacity, but present problems with connectivity and cost. Existing metal waveguides create problems in terms of connectivity, flexibility, and cost. The developed flexible waveguide has a shorter communication distance than optical fiber, but the cable is easy to handle and use in overall terms."

Yonezawa Bussan's "flexible waveguide" has a double-layer structure consisting of an internal dielectric with a tube made of resin and copper foil woven in a braided shape. This achieves "flexibility" while maintaining advantages of a metal waveguide, such as high-speed communication.

"The main characteristic of our waveguide is that forming the metal into a flexible braid prevents interference with the transmission of radio waves even when bent."

Yonezawa Bussan's waveguide combines high power with flexibility. There are great expectations for the waveguide to be used as wiring at communication bases which require space saving, as high-speed communication wiring for data servers and supercomputers, as wiring inside vehicles and other moving objects, and as a cable for general communication in the high-capacity communication era.

Expanding the scope of business by taking on challenges which utilize technology

The flexible waveguide was completed when Yonezawa Bussan joined a joint-development project by "the Industrial Technology Center of Fukui" and "Olympus Corporation".

"At that time, although the pipe structure was close to its finished form, issues remained in terms of mass production. So, we expressed interest in cooperating through our 'weaving' technology."

Yonezawa Bussan has been actively pursuing joint development and research with universities and research institutes, and is also focusing on capital investment.

"Given the speed of changes in the industry and future social conditions, we cannot assume that our core businesses will continue to perform well. Therefore, we have gathered information by participating in exhibitions in Japan and overseas, and by interacting with other companies. In this way, Yonezawa Bussan has broadened our range of business while focusing on 'weaving' technology."

In fact, it was Yonezawa Bussan's first attempt at weaving fabric from metal alone. However, after a few months of careful research, the company determined that they were up to the challenge. "Due to entering the project at a later stage, Yonezawa Bussan felt the desire to become deeply involved in research, even if it meant taking on risk." The company is working to independently develop a dedicated loom, and plans to begin mass production of a sample prototype in February.

Welcoming collaboration with corporations in new fields

Currently, the flexible waveguide achieves almost the same performance as a metal waveguide in the 60 GHz band. While expanding this radio wave band, Yonezawa Bussan intends to extend towards 6G from 2030 for the aviation and space businesses.

"To achieve commercialization, there is also a need for a cooperating company that handles jackets for covering the waveguide. In keeping with the proverb 'every man to his trade,' it is best to enlist the cooperation of highly specialized corporations when working in fields outside of your area of expertise. We welcome participation from corporations that possess high levels of technology and motivation."

Yonezawa Bussan offers promising options for solving problems through collaboration. This policy comes from the following philosophy of President Yonezawa.

"The work that our company undertakes today may no longer exist in the future. Therefore, moving forward, we want to be a company that can flexibly change according to the times, while firmly maintaining our core business of weaving."

Company overview

Yonezawa Bussan Co., Ltd.

Toshinobu Yonezawa, President & CEO

Yonezawa Bussan Co., Ltd. was established in 1952 in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture as a manufacture of narrow textiles. The company is a specialized manufacturer focusing on narrow-width textile materials. The main products are interior materials (blind strings, etc.), and the company also handles apparel miscellaneous materials and various industrial materials. Yonezawa Bussan has one of the few in-house integrated production systems in Japan. The company aims for quality control at the same level as industrial products in terms of performance, functions, dimensional tolerances, etc. It is also actively working to acquire external cooperation.

company information

Coverage date January 23, 2020

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