Demand will rebound from the moderate declines experienced over the course of the recession-impacted 2007-2012 period, when opportunities were restricted by a steep drop in construction activity, reduced motor vehicle output, and the collapse of the recreational boating market.

These markets are anticipated to see renewed growth as economic conditions improve. These and other trends are presented in Fiber-Reinforced Plastic Composites, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

The Freedonia Group report adds that glass fibre is by far the leading reinforcement material used in the composites industry, benefiting from its low cost, high strength-to-weight ratio, good processability, and chemical resistance. However, much smaller volume types such as carbon and aramid fibres are forecast to achieve faster gains based on increasing requirements for higher performing materials, particularly in motor vehicle, aerospace, military, and industrial sectors.

Thermoset polyester is the leading resin type in the FRP composites market, with demand stemming largely from its widespread use in construction applications, where it is favoured for its low cost, durability, and corrosion resistance.

Motor vehicles and construction represent the leading outlets for FRP composites and will provide the best opportunities for growth through 2017, spurred by an improving outlook for vehicle output and a strong rebound in building construction activity. Together, these two markets will account for more than three-quarters of new demand for FRP composites through 2017.

Ongoing efforts among automakers to enhance fuel efficiency will continue to drive composites demand. Advances in the construction market will be propelled by rapid spending increases in the residential sector. Prospects will also be bright in the small volume aerospace sector, driven by the expanding utilisation of carbon fibre composites in the production of commercial airliners. Rising consumer spending levels will bode well for composites used in the production of marine and consumer durables products. Opportunities in the sizable electrical and electronics sector will be more limited, restricted by an anticipated decline in wind turbine installations from elevated 2012 levels.

US fibre-reinforced plastic composites demand (million pounds)
        % Annual Growth % Annual Growth
Item 2007  2012 2017 2007-2012 2012-2017
FRP Composites Demand  3586  3455 4345  -0.7 4.7
Motor Vehicles 864 1025 1380 3.5  6.1
Construction 1071 890 1235 -3.6 6.8
Electrical & Electronic 502 550 550 1.8 --
Consumer Durables 418 360 405 -2.9 2.4
Other 731 630 775  -2.9 4.2

 © 2013 by The Freedonia Group, Inc.