The research study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the global carbon fiber market for 2016-2020. Based on application, the market is categorized into the following segments: aerospace and aviation, sports utility, wind turbine, marine, automotive, construction, and pressure vessels.
The aerospace and aviation applications segment dominated the market with a share of over 58% in 2015. The segment is foreseen to post the highest CAGR over the forecast period. Carbon fiber is used as a substitute to aluminum in the aerospace industry owing to its lightweight and higher strength. Ease of manufacturing complex shapes, corrosion and fatigue resistance, strength, and high stiffness of carbon fibers are the prime drivers for the market growth.
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Technavio analysts highlight the following four factors that are contributing to the growth of the global carbon fiber market:
- Collaborations between vendors and end-user industries
- Growing demand from aerospace segment
- Expansion of production capacities
- Introduction of novel products
Collaborations between vendors and end-user industries
“Increasing collaborations between vendors, and end-users in the market and academic or research institutions are expected to drive the global carbon fiber market during the forecast period,” according to Swapnil Tejveer Sharma, a lead analyst at Technavio for textile, fiber, and composites research.
For instance, SGL works in close collaboration with BMW through a joint venture called SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, for the development and supply of automotive carbon fiber. Kemrock Industries and Exports collaborates closely with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the development and manufacture of carbon fiber for aerospace applications. Such collaborations are expected to drive innovation, thereby contributing to market growth.
Growing demand from aerospace segment
Swapnil says, “Carbon fiber is among the preferred materials for aerospace applications. This is attributable to its high strength-to-weight ratio than metals and also due to the fact that they are much lighter than steel and titanium. In addition, high stiffness and outstanding fatigue and abrasion resistance have increased the scope of its use in the manufacture of various aircraft components like air wings, rudders, landing gears.”
The global aerospace and defense industry is expected to return to growth in 2016 with total revenues estimated to grow at almost 3.2%. The use of carbon fibers as alternatives to metals enhances the fuel efficiency of the aircraft and also improves agility and maneuverability, while offering safety and protection. The rise in demand for long-haul fuel-efficient aircraft has encouraged the evaluation of various high-performance materials in aerospace applications.
Expansion of production capacities
APAC has been gaining prominence in the global aerospace market. Aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing, are enhancing their presence through partnerships with the regional vendors. APAC presents numerous opportunities for aerospace manufacturers as air travel is growing in the region. Airbus and Boeing are likely to double their global aircraft fleet over the next two decades and over a third of this would be accounted by APAC.
For Airbus, APAC accounts for over 30% of its total order. The company has nurtured partnerships with aerospace manufacturers across Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India, and South Korea. Such developments are driving the demand for advanced composites in APAC, thereby providing ample growth opportunities for the vendors.
Introduction of novel products
Although sports equipment accounts for a small share of the global carbon fiber market, increased demand for high-performance products from sports enthusiasts is driving innovations in the market. Many consumers in North American and Western Europe are accepting sports as recreational activities.
Although the use of such products in developing countries is low, volume growth is expected to be higher. This is attributable to an increase in disposable income and increased population. Hexcel offers a range of products such as HexPly, which is used in the manufacture of sports equipment such as fishing rods, tennis racquets, skis, snowboards, and surfboards.
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