Composites Germany has announced the results of its 7th survey of the market for fiber reinforced plastics. The questionnaire was sent to all member companies of Composites Germany’s four major supporting associations: AVK, CCeV, CFK Valley and VDMA Working Group Hybrid Lightweight Technologies. The number of participating companies was greater than ever before with nearly 140 completed questionnaires returned.

Participants were asked for their assessment of the general business climate in the three regions Germany, Europe and worldwide and their responses were positive: more than 80% described the general business climate in all three regions as ‘generally positive’ or ‘very positive’.

They also continue to be very hopeful for the general business climate in the near future. For example, 32% of those surveyed expect the general business climate to improve still further (+8% compared to the last survey) while only 5% expect conditions to worsen (-3%).

Respondents’ assessments of the general market are slightly more optimistic than those relating to their own business situations. The proportion of those surveyed who considered the position of their own company as generally positive or very positive in the worldwide market fell from 79% in the last survey to 72%. The picture for the regions of Europe and Germany is similar.

However, despite this slight fall three quarter of respondents still believe the current situation is positive for their own companies. Only 5% expect business to worsen going forward while 28% of those surveyed expect an improvement. For Europe and Germany these values are even higher at 29% and 33% respectively.

Machinery investment

A similarly complex picture also emerges from the indicators for the investment climate, human resources planning and machinery investment. While in the last survey 44% of respondents said they expected to invest in machinery, this increased to a current value of 53% in the latest edition. However, the number of companies not planning to invest in machinery or which consider such investments unlikely also rose. Nonetheless, it must also be noted that over half of those surveyed expect their companies to become more involved in the area of composites.

There were only small percentage changes in the growth drivers for the composites market. The automotive and aviation sectors remain the areas expected to deliver the strongest growth. 39% of respondents again expect CRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) to be the most important growth driver. However, the material suffered a significant decline (-11%). Forecasts for other materials remained constant or even rose, e.g. natural fiber reinforced plastics (+6%).

Positive picture

The assessment of both the general and specific business climates were less positive than in the last survey in contrast to the positive evaluation of the general future business climate. The hope remains that an upward trend in the general market climate will lift each company individually and therefore the sector as a whole.

As in the last survey, it is important to remember that the overall picture for the sector continues to be very positive despite the negative trend in the indices. The level of satisfaction is still very high. Over 80% of respondents consider their own situation to be either positive or very positive. In H1 and H2 2014 the corresponding figure was even higher at 90% and above. Such high satisfaction levels are impossible to maintain over the long term and put the current declines into perspective.

The next Composites Market Survey will be published in January 2017.

This story is reprinted from material from Composites Germanywith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.