US demand for high performance composites.
US demand for high performance composites.

This will represent a considerable improvement over the 2006-2011 period, during which composite demand was hampered by declines in military and sporting goods applications, notes the Freedonia study High Performance Composites.

Growth markets

Going forward, high performance composite demand will be fuelled by growth in the commercial airliner market as well as in applications such as wind turbines and pressure vessels. However, the high cost and labour-intensive production of advanced composites compared to competitive materials will prevent these materials from penetrating high volume and price-sensitive markets, the report says.

Aerospace markets will remain the leading outlet for high performance composites in 2016 and will be by far the fastest growing, reports Freedonia. While composites have long been used in military aircraft and helicopters, they are beginning to penetrate the commercial airliner segment on a large scale as well. The production ramp up of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will drive the bulk of the increases in high performance composite demand.

Another strong area of growth is the wind energy market.

Much slower growth is expected for defence and safety applications and the mature sporting goods market.

The motor vehicle market, which holds perhaps the greatest potential for high performance composites, will see only moderate gains in demand, as widescale, large-volume use of automotive composites will continue to be restrained by high cost and slow production speeds.

Carbon fibre dominates

Among product types, carbon fibre composites will continue to account for the largest portion of demand, totaling 83% of the high performance composites market in 2016, according to Freedonia.

Carbon fibre composites will benefit from robust growth in the aerospace market as well as their versatility, good balance of mechanical properties, and moderate cost compared with other high performance composites.

S-glass fibre composites will also see double-digit gains in demand, fuelled by opportunities in aerospace, wind energy, and pressure vessel markets.

Freedonia forecasts more moderate advances for composites based on aramid and other fibres, restrained by the slower growing defence and safety composites market.

Further information

High Performance Composites is available for $4900 from The Freedonia Group Inc, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.