The world market for CFRP composites will reach US$26.84 bln in 2014, as per Visiongain. Vast opportunities exist where the unique properties of CFRP can be applied in many industries. Furthermore, if innovation is able to produce a new low cost grade of carbon fibre; this could lead to much larger market penetration. The superior performance per weight of CFRP, and improvements made in the production of CFRP materials has changed the preferences of consumers and manufacturers. As the demands for renewable sources of energy rises, government regulations promote the use of carbon fibre, and innovation increases penetration of CFRP composites in end-user applications and in emerging market economies, demand for CFRP composites will rise. Rising oil prices will drive the need for fuel efficient vehicles and aircraft, the growth of electric and hybrid vehicles will increase CFRP composites usage in the automotive industry, and the development of the wind power market and, offshore drilling and deeper oil and gas exploration will increase the penetration of carbon fibre in the energy industry.
As per Transparency Market Research, the main drivers for the fiber reinforced composites are its strength-to-weight ratio and its resistance to wide range of chemicals. Building & construction and automotives market have been driving the composites market in past few years. Aerospace market is anticipated to be best outlets for FRCs and is likely to provide numerous opportunities in near future. In addition, demand for FRCs is expected to grow in electronics and marine markets in upcoming years. However, costs associated with these composites due to high fibers cost could be restraining factor for FRCs market in near future. The fiber reinforced composites are divided into two types: carbon fiber reinforced composites and glass fiber reinforced composites. The demand for FRCs is higher due to their characteristics such as durability, versatility, weight reduction and cost effectiveness. European countries and the U.S. are the leading regions for the demand of FRCs, while developing regions such as the Middle East and Africa are in the early stages of developments. There is huge potential in Asian countries, particularly India and China, are likely to encourage further growth in the fiber reinforced composites market. Composites are the materials in which a homogeneous matrix component is reinforced by a stiffer and stronger element that is generally fibrous but may have a particulate or other shape. Fiber Reinforced Composites (FRC) consist of three parts, viz., fibers as dispersed phase; matrix as continuous and interphase region as interface. Fiber reinforced polymer (FRPs) are the most common form of FRCs wherein the matrix is a polymer. FRCs finds applications in aerospace, automotives, electronics, building & construction, marine, sports & leisure and military applications among others.
As per Lucintel, composite materials market grew in 2013 by 1.7% to reach US$7 bln in value and 4.7 bln lb (2,132 metric tons) in annual shipments. The US gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.4% in 2013, which will help the US composites market restore confidence again amongst composites part fabricators. Demand in the U.S. composites market is expected to reach US$10.3 bln by 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6%. Strong growth in the transportation, aerospace and construction sectors is expected to drive this trend review by Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO of Lucintel as per compositesworld.com:
Composite materials continue to gain market traction, and OEMs show strong confidence in composites technology. Demand for composite materials in the US aerospace market grew by 10.2% in 2013. New aircraft programs such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, Airbus’ A380 and A350 XWB, Bombardier’s CSeries and general aviation aircrafts such as Cirrus and Diamond are using a significantly higher amount of composites, driving composite materials’ growth. Boeing 787 had a huge order backlog – 909 aircraft, as of March 2014. To fulfill orders, Boeing escalated production capacity of 787s to 10 aircraft per month by the end of 2013, followed by an expected increase to 12 aircraft per month by 2016 and 14 aircraft per month by 2020. Airbus’ A350 XWB, which is in flight testing ahead of market entry in H2-2014, had 824 orders as of August 2014. A350 XWB is expected to launch in 2015 and have a production rate of 10 aircraft per month by late 2018. Of great interest in the aerospace market is the forthcoming Learjet 85 business jet, manufactured by Bombardier. Wingskins and spars for the plane are manufactured in Belfast, Northern Ireland, using an in-autoclave resin transfer infusion (RTI) process. The fuselage and empennage are manufactured in Querétaro, Mexico, via an out-of-autoclave (OOA) process. The plane makes use of composites not only to reduce airframe weight and increase fuel economy, but also to significantly reduce part count because composites have enabled Learjet to produce large, integrated structures. In the process, Bombardier has learned much about materials characterization, materials management, process development and certification.
Auto sales were projected to reach 15.6 mln vehicles in 2013, from 14.7 mln vehicles in 2012, driven mainly by low interest rates, increasing consumer confidence and vehicle replacement. Composite materials are used in interior headliners, underbody systems, bumper beams and instrumental panels. The demand for composites in the US automotive market grew by 8.8% in 2013. Increase in the use of composite materials in racing and high-performance vehicle components, such as chassis, hoods, wheels and roofs, is one of the driving factors for the increase in composites penetration in the automotive industry. As automakers work to meet Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards of 36.6 mpg b y 2017 and 54.5 mpg by 2025, vehicle weight reduction has become a major strategy.
The vehicle of greatest immediate interest to the composites industry is the BMW i3, and all-electric, four-door passenger car that features a carbon fiber passenger cell, or Life Module. It’s the first production vehicle (40,000 units/year) to make such significant use of carbon fiber in a relatively high-volume manufacturing environment. The carbon fiber is sourced exclusively from a joint venture of BMW and SGL Group in Moses Lake, Wash.; parts are molded via resin transfer molding (RTM) at BMW’s vehicle manufacturing and assembly facility in Leipzig, Germany. The car entered the European market in late 2013 and is being introduced to the U.S. in spring 2014. Demand for carbon fiber composites will significantly grow as major OEMs have entered into joint ventures with carbon fiber suppliers to have a secured raw material supply. Zoltek (now Toray) entered into strategic alliance with Magna International for the development of low-cost carbon fiber sheet molding compounds (SMC). Ford Motor Co. is working with carbon fiber supplier DowAksa to develop materials and processes for automotive composites manufacturing, and GM and Teijin are working along similar lines to develop a thermoplastic composites molding process for future vehicles. Molders such as Plasan Composites worked with Globe Machine Manufacturing Co. and Weber Manufacturing to develop an autoclave-like manufacturing process called RapidClave to fabricate automotive composite parts in 17 minutes. More recently, Toray bought a stake in Plasan, which is expected to help Plasan develop high-speed resin transfer molding (RTM) capabilities.