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Global continuous fiber thermoplastics estimated to grow at over 8% until end of decade

Global continuous fiber thermoplastics estimated to grow at over 8% until end of decade

12-Sep-14

Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics (CFTs) differs from short fiber reinforced thermoplastics such as LFRT and GMT in terms of fiber length. CFTs, growing over the past two decades, include a variety of products, including unidirectional prepregs, fabric based prepregs, narrow tapes, commingled fibers in roving and fabric forms, sheets, and rods. Historically, CFTs were used in niche applications in aerospace and defense market, growing in recent years in automotive, sporting, transportation, industrial and other applications. Demand has been driven by a variety of applications in aerospace, automotive and trucks. However, CFTs are even finding their way into furniture, fastener, medical, marine and other applications adding on to increase in use of thermoplastic composites by Airbus and Boeing and other commercial aircraft manufacturers.

CFT market is expected to reach an estimated US$216.7 mln by 2019, as per Lucintel. CFTs are used in a variety of markets such as aerospace, transportation, sporting goods, industrial goods, and ballistics which have been the market drivers in the recent years, helping to gain widespread acceptance in the marketplace across all regions. Aerospace segment is expected to depict highest growth due to increasing demand of composite materials from new aircraft programs. The growth of carbon fiber based CFT is expected to remain strong over the forecast period owing to the increasing demand from aerospace industry. TenCate, Cytec, Fiber Glass Industries, Polystrand, LANXESS and Celanese are among the major suppliers of CFT. Major resins used in CFTs are PP, PA, PEEK, PPS, PEI and PEKK. CFT suppliers are continuously adopting new strategies to gain market share in this industry. Innovation would further enhance the product performance and lower the overall cost for consumers which will drive the market. The biggest challenge in the industry is relatively higher cost of CFT materials compared to competing materials. Further, CFT requires sophisticated equipment to apply higher heat and pressure for processing. Inter-material competition also has a great threat; innovations in new technology, fiber or resin formulations have the potential to change the dynamics of the market.
As per an earlier report by Lucintel, CFT market is estimated to reach US$191.8 mln by 2017, at a CAGR of 8.6%. The critical success factor for CFTs material producers will increasingly be not only about developing new products at low cost; in addition, Lucintel believes the most successful companies will be those that can develop application-specific, customer-focused solutions and have the ability to help their customers achieve long-term business objectives, such as increasing performance or lowering costs. The CFTs materials are at the growth stage on life cycle curve. Cost efficiency; time-to-market; and pricing are major factors in gaining customer confidence and increase market share. The biggest hurdles at manufacturers end are immature manufacturing base as compared to thermoset composites, high capital cost and weak material knowledge at end user level due to lack of material data base. That shows a high potentials and eager for innovation in CFTs market. To gain competitive advantage in this segment materials suppliers have to focus on growth opportunities through new/improved applications; competence in process development and a customer oriented and innovation driven growth strategy.

Continuous Fiber Thermoplastics (CFT) materials are used in a spectrum of markets which have been the market drivers in the recent years, helping gain widespread acceptance in the marketplace across all regions. A paradigm shift is occurring in automotive and industrial companies, which are now embracing CFT as a potential replacement for traditional materials, especially in those applications where weight/performance and cost/performance is crucial. Among the main challenges of the market, reduction in gross margin and overall profitability may reduce R&D and further capital investment to increase CFT production that can pose as a big threat for further growth. Inter-material competition also possesses a great threat; innovations in new technology, fiber or resin formulation have the potential to change the dynamics of the market. The CFT materials can be formulated with glass, carbon of aramid fiber whereas polypropylene (PP), nylon, PPS, PEEK, PC, and PEI are the most commonly used resin systems, which increases the global demand.

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