This will create a market for 2.3 billion lbs of resin and 1.3 billion lbs of reinforcements, according to a report from US market research firm The Freedonia Group Inc.

Reinforced thermoset composite demand, led by unsaturated polyester resin and epoxy resin, is expected to increase 2.8% a year. Unsaturated polyester resin demand will rise at an 'average rate' through 2013, reflecting renewed economic growth and the introduction of improved resins and processing techniques, while epoxy resin demand will grow faster due to opportunities in electrical and electronic composites.

Wind turbine blades and other components are also a large potential application for polyester and epoxy composites. Although this market is currently dominated by offshore producers, Freedonia notes that blade manufacturers are expected to open facilities in the US Midwest in order to reduce transportation costs for the huge blades.

Demand for reinforced thermoplastic composites is projected to increase 2.9% a year to 1.5 billion lbs in 2013. Reinforced polypropylene (PP) and nylon (polyamide/PA) composites will exhibit above average growth. Polypropylene will remain the leading thermoplastic resin based on its low cost, stiffness and dimensional stability. Motor vehicles will remain nylon’s primary market based on the resin’s high strength, stiffness, and good chemical and abrasion resistance.

The 297-page Freedonia report, Reinforced Plastics, is available for US$4,600.

US reinforced plastics demand (million lbs).
  2003 2008 2013 % annual growth 2003-2008 % annual growth 2008-2013
Reinforced plastics demand 3235 3165 3640 -0.4 2.8
Thermosets 1950 1865 2140 -0.9 2.8
Thermoplastics 1285 1300 1500 0.2 2.9
Reinforced plastics demand (million US$) 4100 6100 7400 8.3 3.9

Source: The Freedonia Group Inc.