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Global advanced polymer composites growth to be driven by rising demand from aerospace industry

Global advanced polymer composites growth to be driven by rising demand from aerospace industry

30-Nov-15

Composites are made up of two or more materials with different properties, which are combined to exhibit unique characteristics. Polymer composites are made up of two major components: a polymer matrix and a reinforcing fiber material. A variety of fibers (like carbon, glass and aramid) and polymer resins (such as epoxy, polyester, phenol and polyacrylic) are used in manufacturing polymer composites. These polymer composites have applications in the aerospace and aviation, automotive, electronics, energy, and marine segments.
Technavio's analysts forecast the global advanced polymer composites market to grow at a CAGR of 8.13% over 2014-2019. According to the report, the global advanced polymer composites market is experiencing an increase in demand for applications in the aerospace sector. An increasing number of newly introduced larger commercial aircraft manufacturers are focusing on weight reduction to enhance fuel efficiency in these aircraft, which can be achieved through the use of advanced polymer composites. Polymer composites, especially epoxy-based polymer composites, are used to manufacture aircraft components and parts such as rudders, landing gear, and engine nacelles. Commenting on the report, an analyst said: "More and more vendors in the market are focusing on the R&D of technologically advanced products for such applications. The introduction of new low-cost polymer composites for wind energy applications is expected to lead to the manufacture of wind turbine blades that are stronger, lighter, and longer. These blades capable of creating more energy than shorter ones. For instance, Hexcel offers HexPly prepreg, which is a polymer composite made of epoxy resins and reinforced with glass or carbon fiber. Further, the report states that the production of larger volumes of these products at economical prices could become a challenge as demand increases.

The global advanced polymer composites market was valued at US$7.47 bln in 2013 and is likely to reach US$12.12 bln by 2020, expanding at a CAGR of 7.2% from 2014 to 2020, as per Transparency Market Research. The global advanced polymer composites market is driven by the rising demand from the aerospace industry. Furthermore, the expanding application of advanced polymer composites in the wind energy sector will also drive the market. On the other hand, the global advanced polymer composites market will be constrained by the high production costs of carbon fiber. Nevertheless, players in the global advanced polymer composites market will benefit from the opportunity presented by the automobile sector increasing its demand for advanced polymer composites in the coming few years. Some of the key players in the global advanced polymer composites market are Owens Corning, Cristex, SGL Carbon, Solvay, Mitsubishi Rayon, Toray Industries, Cytec Industries, Hexcel, BASF, and Arkema. By raw material, the global advanced polymer composites market is divided into resins (polyester resin, phenolic resin, epoxy resin, and others) and fibers (aramid, glass, carbon, and others). Application-wise, the global advanced polymer composites market is classified into wind blades, boat building, aviation parts, tanks and pipes, auto parts, conductors, and others. On the basis of end use, the global advanced polymer composites market is divided into marine, consumer goods, aerospace and aviation, energy, automotive, electrical and electronics, and others. Several parts of an aircraft, such as rudders, floor beams, doors, and landing gear assembly, are made using advanced polymer composites. The aerospace sector held a share of more than 40% in the global advanced polymer composites market in 2013. The demand for advanced polymer composites is predicted to grow significantly due to the rising demand for aircraft carriers around the world. In 2013, the global advanced polymer composites market was led by North America with a share of around 38%, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. Several aircraft makers are based in North America, which will drive the demand for advanced polymer composites in this region. The Asia Pacific advanced polymer composites market is expected to demonstrate the fastest growth in the forecast period due to the rising demand from its end-use industries. Asia Pacific is one of the key markets for producers of advanced polymer composites owing to the economic growth and technological advancement observed in this region in the past few years. This has led to many manufacturers establishing new plants in Asia Pacific countries. Glass fibers account for the largest share of the advanced polymer composites produced globally. Demand for glass fibers is anticipated to rise significantly, due to increasing demand for non-conventional energy sources such as wind energy. E-glass and S-glass fibers are used in the production of wind blades of wind turbines. Shift towards non-conventional energy sources such as wind energy and the subsequent increasing in number of wind turbine installations are likely to be the major drivers for glass fiber-based advanced polymer composites in the next few years.

A report by Grand View Research estimates the global advanced polymer composites market is expected to grow owing to rising demand from wind energy and aerospace industries. Advanced polymer composites are increasingly finding application in wind blades manufacturing. Increasing importance for energy generation through renewable sources and growing requirement for high material strength in wind power installations is expected to be a major factor driving advanced polymer composites demand over the forecast period. Composite materials are rapidly substituting metals such as aluminum, titanium and steel in aeronautical & aircraft components such as turbine blades, heat exchanges and chemical reaction vessels as they provide for lighter weight and better resistance towards chemical corrosion. Advanced composite materials exhibit higher durability, structural rigidity and material strength compared to other composite materials, thus gaining competitive edge in terms of its application. Additionally, these composites facilitate for higher fuel efficiency through weight reduction. High commercial aircraft demand coupled with rising aviation fuel costs along with the aforementioned factors is expected to drive the global demand over the next seven years. Other major end-use industries associated with advanced polymer composites include electrical & electronics, automotive, consumer goods and marine. In order to reduce GHG emissions from automobiles, various regulatory agencies such as Federal Highway Administration, U.S. EPA and EU Commission for Transportation have stipulated guidelines and legislations to reduce gross vehicular weight. This trend has been instrumental in driving plastics and composites demand in automotive components as an alternative to metals & alloys. Advanced polymer composites are finding application in automotive components such as drive trains, chassis, body panels and fascias. Simultaneously, there is also a growing requirement for high performance among luxury vehicle users. Weight reduction enhances automobile's performance as it improves power to weight ratio. This factor is expected to further complement the global demand in automotive applications. Advanced polymer composite products include resins & fibers. Major resins include epoxy resins, phenolic resins and polyester resins. Fibers such as carbon fiber, aramid fiber and glass fiber are increasingly gaining prominence particularly in high performance applications such as auto parts, wind blades, aviation components, boat structures and electrical conductors. Glass fibers such as s-glass and e-glass are widely used in wind blades of wind turbines. The product segment is also widely consumed amongst other advanced polymer composites owing to its versatility in terms of stiffness and fatigue & abrasion resistance. North America is a leading regional market with high demand in aerospace, automotive and electronics. Advancements in terms of product development coupled with presence of major multinational companies have provided North America with growth advantage over other regions in the recent past. Increasing automotive production in India, China, Japan and Korea is expected to be a major driving Asia Pacific market growth. High growth rates in end-use industries of Asia Pacific coupled with gradually shifting manufacturing base towards China is expected to further complement the region's growth over the next seven years. Europe is characterized by sluggish industrial output which is expected to hinder its growth during the forecast period. Middle East & Africa is projected to grow in line with global trends. MEA growth is driven by growing automotive aftermarket segment and consumer goods demand. Central & South America is considered to be a potential regional market which is described by growing petrochemical processing industry in Brazil, which in turn facilitates for advanced polymer composites production. Major companies operating in the global market include Arkema S.A., Hexcel Corp., Cytec Industries, SGL Carbon SE, Solvay S.A., BASF SE, Owens Corning Corp., and TPI Composites. The industry is highly competitive with various companies undertaking capacity expansions to achieve economies of scale. Growing production base mainly in emerging markets is expected to decrease product pricing and also drive competitiveness among participants.

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