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.
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.