TOKYO - Japan's Toray Industries, the world's top supplier of carbon fibers, said Friday it would buy smaller U.S. rival Zoltek Companies for about $584 million.

Tokyo-based Toray (IW 1000/247), which makes high-end carbon fibers used in jets including Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, said the purchase would help it tap growing demand for cheaper materials found in automotive parts and alternative energy such as wind-turbine blades.

The Japanese firm said it is paying $16.75 a share to buy St. Louis, Mo.-based Zoltek.

"By acquiring Zoltek, Toray has obtained the opportunity for further growth, expanding its business in a totally different field," the Japanese firm said.

The deal is expected to close later this year or in early 2014, it said.

Demand for carbon fiber materials, which are lighter and stronger than sheet steel and aluminium, has started to pick up again after orders slumped in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013