With the increasing concern due to the recyclability and biodegradability composites such as glass and carbon, natural fiber composites (NFC) serves as perfect replacement. Attributing to added properties such as high durability, low density, lightweight and cost effectiveness, natural fiber composites have gained significant traction. NFCs are reinforced matrices structure formed using natural fibers. Natural fiber such as coir, jute, bagasse, cotton, bamboo, hemp are used to manufacture high strength and stiff composite structures that can be used for various application. The natural fibers can be used to reinforce both thermosetting and thermoplastic matrices, are relatively lighter and have more strength than conventional fibers and therefore find extensive application in automotive industry for interior and exterior application. In the construction industry, NFCs are used in applications such as railings, window frames and door panels, as well as for packaging and electrical industry. Natural fiber composites are manufactured using two methods - injection and compression moulding. However they are predominantly processed by compression moulding technique.
The NFC market is expected to witness a significant growth until start of next decade owing to the rising environmental concern over the production and utilization of non-biodegradable synthetic fibers, as per Persistence Market Research Pvt. Ltd. Stringent regulation regarding non-biodegradable composites in regions such as Europe and North America have opened new opportunities for these materials in these regions. With increasing demand for sustainable NFcs in emerging economies for automotive, constructions and textile industry, the outlook looks positive for the forecast years. Although the demand is increasing the market is restrained by the presence of semi synthetic fiber composites. Inherent properties of relatively high moisture absorption and limited chemical reactivity also hinder the growth of NFC market. In terms of demand, the largest market is Europe owing to extensive demand of natural fiber composites automotive application. Key market in Europe include UK and Germany. Followed by Europe, North America and Latin America see high demand from infrastructure and constructions applications. Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the largest market for the forecasted years, with emerging market of India and China contributing significantly in the market dynamics. The escalating demands from regions such as Middle East & Africa are anticipated to influence the market in the coming years due to the increasing demands from construction and electronics industry.
The global natural fiber composites market is estimated to be worth US$6.5 bln by 2021, as per MarketsandMarkets, at a CAGR of 11.68%, between 2016 and 2021. This growth is attributed to the high demand for NFCs in the construction and automotive industry, driven by the regulatory norms, and superior performance. Lightweight, high stiffness-to-weight ratio, consumer awareness regarding recyclable, and biodegradable materials, are advantages of the use of NFCs in the composites market.
Compression molding is the most widely used manufacturing process of NFCs. Automotive and construction industries are the key users of compression molded NFCs due to their benefits, such as cost effectiveness, high reproducibility, low cycle time, homogenous distribution of long fibers in fleece, lesser wastage of raw material and lower tooling costs. Heavy and intricate complex parts with good surface finish can be made with the help of compression molding, which make it suitable in the construction industry. In the automotive industry, it is used to produce interior parts of automobiles with higher strength and stiffness. The demand for NFCs in the construction industry for outdoor deck floors, railings, fences, landscaping timbers, park benches, window and door frames, and indoor furniture has grown remarkably on the global platform. This is due to their superior strength-to weight ratio, recyclability, and low cost. Further, NFCs are becoming popular and essential for making automotive components such as seatbacks, parcel shelves, boot linens, front and rear door linens, truck linens, and door-trim panels due to their lightweight and increased fuel efficiency. The North America region accounts for the largest market of NFCs, globally, due to the high demand from the construction industry and regulatory norms requiring the use of ecofriendly materials. Along with the existing capacities, several NFCs manufacturers, are expanding their production capacities. According to the Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) report, almost 1.5 million vehicles included applications for natural fibers such as kenaf, jute, flax, hemp and sisal in combination with thermoplastic polymers such as polypropylene and polyester. The demand for NFCs in North America is projected to continuously increase in the near future on account of significant performance at lower prices of NFCs in automotive and construction applications driven by regulatory standards recommending the use of lightweight and recyclable materials.
As per Grand View research, the global Natural Fiber Composites market is estimated to be worth US$10.89 bln by 2024. Natural fiber composites are eco-friendly materials used to provide durability and strength to the physical structures used in automotive and construction industries. Rising awareness regarding bio-based green building materials and supportive government regulations are likely to propel growth over the forecast period. Furthermore, increasing population has led to growing demand for residential construction as well as public infrastructure, which is expected to augment growth. Technological advancements in manufacturing processes such as compression molding, injection molding, and extrusion are likely to have a positive impact on growth over the next eight years. Natural fibers are substituting glass and carbon fibers in the recent years due to low costs and improved sustainability. They are available in abundance in Europe and Asia Pacific which in turn is expected to propel demand over the next 8 years. Further key findings from the report suggest:
* Wood fiber composites dominated the global market in 2015, and this trend is likely to continue over the next 8 years. Raw materials including flax, hemp, and kenaf are increasingly used in the production of lightweight and fuel-efficient cars, which in turn is expected to propel demand. In addition, recycled cotton is also being increasingly used for automotive industry thus driving growth.
* Compression molding led the market in terms of technology and is being utilized for the development of luxury car components. This technology helps in the production of lightweight components with improved properties such as deformation resistance and lamination ability.
* Construction industry dominated the global market, in terms of application followed by automotive industry. Natural fiber composites are finding increased applications in industries such as sporting goods and electrical & electronics. Sporting goods accounted for over 2% of the market share in 2015 and is projected to witness significant growth on account of increasing awareness regarding exercise benefits and changing consumer lifestyles.
*North America dominated the market and was valued at about US$2 bln in 2015. The presence of a vast number of market players in the region is expected to have a positive impact on growth. In Europe, supportive government regulations and presence of a vast number of automotive manufacturers are projected to accelerate the growth.