Last week's COMPOSITES EUROPE in Stuttgart was the 8th show in the series.

I remember the first show all those years ago, when people were saying there was no room for another composites exhibition. But with the support of assocations EuCIA and AVK, and (I have to say!) Reinforced Plastics, combined with a lot of hard work from Reed Exhibitions, the event is now firmly established (see COMPOSITES EUROPE 2013 attracts over 9000 visitors).

Composites key for Germany

During the show AVK released its annual statistics on the European industry, showing that Germany is now the largest GRP market in Europe, accounting for nearly 20% of the total volume.

Other regions showing growth over the past year are the UK/Ireland and Eastern Europe, while France, Italy and Spain/Portugal are all down on 2012.

Overall, AVK estimates only a slight increase in GRP production in Europe during 2013 to reach 1,020 kt (up from 1,010 kt in 2012).

(Turkey is currently not included in these statistics, but with an estimated production of 214 kt in 2013 the country in fact leads all the other regions.)

A stronger voice

During the show four German organisations announced the formation of a new trade assocation – Composites Germany – to provide 'one voice' for the German industry both nationally and internationally.

"Composites are a key technology for Germany and this technology has to stay," emphasised Dr Michael Effing, Chairman of Composites Germany, citing the high-profile Airbus A350 (Premium AEROTEC, Augsburg, is a key supplier of components to the aircraft) and BMW's i3 electric car (with composite passenger cell), which has just been launched on the market. 

Of course these projects employ carbon fibre composites, a market which is also growing. According to a report from CCeV (another member of the new Composites Germany association) global demand for carbon fibre is expected to grow at around 13% over the coming years (see chart on left).  

Carbon fibre materials and applications were certainly much in evidence during COMPOSITES EUROPE, as were methods and equipment for automating composites production.

It's evident that continued innovation in materials and applications, and the development of more automated production techniques, will be at the heart of the future composites industry in Europe. ♦


By Amanda Jacob, Content Development Editor at Reinforced Plastics.