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Global aerospace plastics market expected to reach US$10.5 bln

Global aerospace plastics market expected to reach US$10.5 bln

31-Jul-13

The global aerospace plastics market was worth US$6.2 bln in 2011 and is expected to reach US$10.5 bln in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2012 to 2018. In terms of volume, the aerospace plastic consumption was 40.5 kilo tons in 2011 and is expected to reach 87.8 kilo tons in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 11.7% from 2012 to 2018, as per a study by Transparency Market Research. Steady growth in the aviation industry, excellent strength to weight ratio, and increased adoption of aerospace plastics in aircraft designs are largely augmenting the growth of the aerospace plastics market. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Greenpeace regulations that are imposed upon the production of aerospace plastics are acting as a challenge for the growth of this market. These conventions primarily monitor the percentage of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of aerospace plastics. Furthermore, the high cost of raw materials, namely PAN (Polyacrylonitrile), utilized in manufacturing the aerospace plastics are acting as a restraint for this market. The commercial aircrafts end-user segment accounted for 72% of market share in 2011 followed by military aircrafts, rotary aircrafts, and general aviation planes end-user segments. Aerospace plastics market is categorized into six application segments. Fuselage was the key application segment that accounted for over 28% of market share in 2011. Wings, empennage, flight deck and cabin areas are a few other key application segments estimated and analyzed in this study. In terms of volume, Europe dominated the global aerospace plastics market that accounted for more than 43% of the overall market in 2011. In Europe, Germany, France, the UK and Spain were the key regional markets and together accounted for more than 75% of the European market. Europe is expected to dominate the aerospace plastics market for the next five years, owing to the supportive government policies and rising investments seen in Europe over the past three years. Some of the European public bodies such as ONERA, CNES, and CNRT are inventing new materials that are in turn attracting aircraft manufacturers in this region. The U.S. aerospace plastics market had grown at a steady rate even during economic slowdown, primarily due to reasonable demand in the airlines industry. Increased air traffic and substantial rise in the military budget have provided adequate growth impetus for the North American aerospace plastics market. Asia Pacific is expected to drive the aerospace plastics market chiefly due to low labor overheads and huge investments. In Asia Pacific, the military aircrafts end-user segment is expected to grow, owing to adequate financial support provided by the government. Some of the key players supplying aerospace plastics include Hexcel Corporation, Mitsubishi Rayon, SGL Carbon, Toho Tenax, Toray Group and Zoltek Companies Inc. The report provides an overview of these companies followed by their financial revenue, business strategies and recent developments. The Indian aerospace industry - both civil and military - stands is on the threshold of catapulting itself into the global arena. Indian aerospace composites market is expected to grow in double digits per year through 2018. Composites are mainly used for developing military aircrafts, helicopters, UAVs and applications in Space sector. Once dominated by public sector, the military aerospace manufacturing industry is now opened for private sector. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the leading manufacturer of aircrafts and helicopters for Indian armed forces. Taking into consideration of the progress of new projects, five years down the line, HAL will have the Advanced Light Helicopter, Light Combat Helicopter, Light Utility Helicopter, Intermediate Jet Trainer and Light Combat Aircraft fully certified and will start produce at full capacity. All these aircrafts/helicopters use composites and expect to drive the demand for composites materials in Indian aerospace industry.

As per Freedonia, aerospace markets will remain the leading outlet for high performance composites in 2016 and will be by far the fastest-growing. While composites have long been used in military aircraft and helicopters, they are beginning to penetrate the commercial airliner segment on a large scale as well. The production ramp up of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has more than 50% composite content, will drive the bulk of the increases in high performance composite demand. Rising production of other composite-intensive airliners, such as the Airbus A380 and A350 XWB, will also benefit demand. Outside of aerospace applications, another strong area of growth for high performance composites is the burgeoning wind energy market. Much slower growth is expected for defense and safety applications -- due to a reduction of combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the highly mature sporting goods market. The motor vehicle market, which holds perhaps the greatest potential for high performance composites, will see only moderate gains in demand, as their use continues to be restrained by high cost and slow production speeds. Among product types, carbon fiber composites will continue to account for the largest portion of demand, totaling 83% of the high performance market in 2016. Carbon fiber composites will benefit from robust growth in the aerospace market as well as their versatility, good balance of mechanical properties, and moderate cost compared with other high performance composites. S-glass fiber composites -- the least costly of all advanced composites -- will also see double-digit gains in demand, fueled by opportunities in aerospace, wind energy, and pressure vessel markets. As per Zeus Industrial Products, Inc, Plastics are used in aerospace applications for a variety of reasons. While cost savings are a key reason, there are many areas where the unique properties of plastics make them the only suitable materials for the application:
Strength to weight ratio
Weight is a key factor in any aerospace application and determines the efficiency and design of any aerospace component. Plastics have an excellent strength to weight ratio and can be used to reduce weight while still fulfilling the function. Reducing weight has a direct impact on performance and efficiency – a weight reduction of 1 kg can reduce lifetime operating costs, primarily in fuel costs, for a commercial airplane by more than $2,000. Thus, even small weight reductions can be very cost-effective. In military applications, weight reduction will lead to improved performance and can be the “difference” between success and failure. Plastics are used to reduce weight in areas as diverse as the main structure to the cutlery and bottles used for serving meals.
Part count and manufacturing operations reduction
Many of the applications of plastics enable part count reductions through the use of integral clips and fastenings or the production of finished large volume parts in a single process. This not only reduces weight and eliminates manufacturing steps, but also reduces the manufacturing time. Plastics can reduce other manufacturing operations through their unique properties. For example, plastics for interior appearance parts can be made integrally colored to eliminate painting.
Flexibility
Plastics are flexible and resistant to damage from engine induced vibration in all types of aerospace applications.
Electromagnetic transparency
Many plastics materials are transparent to wide ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum and allow plastics to be used for radomes and other structures where radar or other electromagnetic transparency is needed. This property can be used for stealth structures that are difficult to detect using conventional sensors.
Corrosion resistance
The use of plastics can greatly reduce maintenance costs associated with potential corrosion problems. Corrosion prevention is a major issue for structures manufactured from metal and the use of plastics reduces any corrosion issues and reduces maintenance costs by 30%.
Smooth contours
Plastics products can be easily formed into complex curved structures and parts to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag. When used for major airframe structures, the reduced drag is also accompanied by reduced weight – a double benefit from a single class of materials.
Market sectors
The aerospace market is not homogenous, but is composed of several but very different large sectors.

Typical market sectors for plastics applications in the aerospace industry, include

  • Commercial: Large passenger and freight aircraft for civilian use is one of the pioneering application areas for plastics. The passenger and freight industries are extremely competitive and most carriers operate on low margins. Opportunities to reduce weight (and hence operating costs) or maintenance issues are highly sought after by operators. Increasing the use of plastics can provide both benefits and aircraft manufacturers are strongly motivated by potential sales to increase the plastics content of modern commercial aircraft.

  • Military: Formula 1 and other racing cars act as “test-beds” for innovative ideas that, if successful, make their way into the cars we drive each day. Similarly military aircraft (both fighters and bombers) act as “test-beds” for innovative aerospace structures and developments. The jet engine was originally developed for military purposes, but was rapidly taken up by civilian airplanes and changed the face of civilian travel. Similarly, new developments in the application of plastics are often first seen in military aircraft where the demands are extremely high.

  • Rotary: Helicopters for both civilian & military use are particularly weight sensitive, subject to high vibrational loads and required to carry high payloads. Most rotary aircraft make extensive structural and mechanical use of plastics to meet these almost contradictory requirements.

  • Business jets and small planes: Small business jets and planes for civilian use are a growth market throughout the world. The rapid introduction of new composite materials and designs maximizing the benefits of these are increasing design flexibility, market size, and the volume of plastics in civilian aerospace applications.

  • Space: Satellites for telecommunications and many other applications, as well as manned and unmanned spacecraft, all make extensive use of plastics in construction, wiring and heat shields. Plastics have already been to the Moon and Mars and they will undoubtedly also be present when man lands on other planets.

  • Missiles and weapons: Ground and air based missile systems both portable and fixed systems.
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