Report forecasts composites industry trends

Global growth for materials is forecast at 5.2 percent to reach $25.5 billion in 2014 with future opportunities in materials, processes and applications.

Market research and consulting firm, Lucintel (Irving, Texas, USA) has released “Composites Industry Outlook 2014” and “Innovation Mega Trends in Composites.” The industry outlook report includes forecasts for global and regional materials and end product markets and looks at upcoming projects in transportation, energy, and infrastructure that will impact composites.

The innovation mega trends report explores movement in applications such as automotive, aerospace and energy sectors, and also at developments in materials including fibers, resins and cores. Overall directions for technology in composites are detailed as well; for example, faster cycle times, lower costs, carbon composites recycling, improved reinforcement conversion, higher performance inline compound molding and out-of-autoclave processing.

Lucintel forecasts the end product market for composites to reach $72 billion in 2014. North America and Europe are expected to experience significant growth, whereas Asia is likely to lag behind in 2014. The aerospace market is forecast to experience double-digit growth, whereas global construction, transportation and electrical and electronics markets for composites are forecast to grow by 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014.

Lucintel CEO, Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, says, “In the next 50 years, there will be significant innovations in the composites industry across various segments such as automotive, aerospace, wind energy, pipe and tank, pole, construction, etc. Light-weighting and cost reduction are the two mega trends in various segments such as in automotive, aerospace, and wind energy. Major innovation is expected in future development of low-cost carbon fibers for automotive, wind, and industrial applications. Low-cost alternative precursors, such as textile polyacrylonitrile (PAN), lignin and polyolefin are being considered for development. Also, there is focus on reducing energy cost. There is an increasing trend towards development of resins with optimum gel times for long wind blades. Low-cost and high-strength nanoresins will gain traction in future wider applications.”

Lucintel expects significant innovation mega trends in composite technologies, targeting faster cycle time, better product quality, lower capital and lower processing cost. There would be a growing trend towards development of processes with the combined capabilities of AFP (automated fiber placement) and ATL (automated tape laying) for reduction in capital cost and in improving throughput. Improved techniques for carbon composites recycling to strengthen life cycle robustness is another mega trend. A recent example is the closed loop recycling technique for BMW i3 carbon fiber composite parts.