Composite materials have been substituting conventional materials across various applications for decades, though with slow penetration rates. The growth rate in the composites materials industry has started getting traction. However, in volume terms, composites are still far behind due to lack of technical advancements in the raw materials manufacturing process, costs of raw materials, composite material fabrications and its compatibility in various end-use sectors.
The composites industry is diversified and is varied from application to application. Composites materials consist of two different parts which are reinforcements and matrices. In commercial composite materials, carbon fibre and glass fibre are the two major reinforcements with high penetration rates. While, in term of matrices, thermoset polymer matrices are getting popular nowadays. On the back of high global importance towards recycling, thermoplastic polymer matrices are also making inroads into the market.
Another major segment in the composite materials market is wood plastic composites or natural fibre composites. These are not advanced composites, though widely used in the market due to their lower costs and ease of use in replacement of natural wood. Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) and natural composites dominate the market and currently accounting for around 97% market share in the total composites volumes.
Aramid fibre composite also has a considerable share in value terms, but their applications are limited to the defence sector, so it has less importance in the commercial market. Other composite materials like Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs), Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs), bio-composites etc have a nominal share in the overall composites market.
Commodity Inside assesses that there is an excess supply of composite raw materials like glass fibre, carbon fibres and resins. Currently, composites demand is driven by a wide array of factors and linked to specific end users. For instance, carbon fibre composite demand is predominantly driven by aerospace and automotive sectors. Similarly, glass fibre composites demand currently depends on end-use sectors such as wind energy, construction and tanks and vessel. Wood plastic composite demand is driven mainly by construction and furniture industries.
Commodity Inside expects that, carbon fibre composites will further penetrate in aerospace and automotive industries over the next ten years. High costs, which is one of the key factors restraining demand, is expected to decline substantially as a result of improved production processes. In aerospace and automotive composites, fabrication accounts for almost 70-80% of production cost which is restraining demand in these sectors. This cost will be decreased through autoclave OOA technology and other technical advancements which will accelerate carbon fibre composites uptake. Marine and pressure vessels are set to be adopting carbon fibre composite with high rates and could provide renewed growth for carbon fibre composites demand in the coming decade.
In the glass fibre composites segment, demand will be driven by wind energy on the back of growing clean energy trend. Demand has been increasing for composites in the construction sector after the 2009 update to the International Code Council’s (ICC) International Building Code (IBC) permitting its use. Marine industry especially the cruise building in Europe is expected to adopt high demand for glass fibre composite which would also increase the demand going forward. Commodity Inside believes that glass fibres composites costs would closely track glass and oil prices.
Asia is showing the highest growth rate in the composite materials market. The growth rate of the carbon fibre composite supply and demand is increasing considerably in South Korea. China and India are showing rising demand for glass fibre composites. The Middle East particularly the UAE is a new emerging market for the glass fibre as well as carbon fibre composites.
Carbon fibre composite demand is on the high trajectory in Americas due to its aerospace and automotive industry. In Europe, demand is almost stable, but in major markets such as Germany, glass fibre composites demand is raising on the back of its applications in the construction industry.
Commodity Inside understands that the expected significant higher demand for composites materials would not cause any supply shortage in the raw materials in the coming few years. There have already been some announcements about carbon and glass fibre capacity additions in the US, China and India.
This article is based on our recently publish report “A Strategic Outlook for the Global Composite Materials Market to 2028”. To learn more about the report please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org