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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Five trends to change the European composites market?

11 March, 2013
The composites market is booming with an average of +6% growth per year since 2010. With a growing demand for better environmental impact reduction and costs savings, composites are used more and more often to lighten structures, aircraft, and vehicles in general, thus improving energy efficiency. JEC Group, the largest composites industry organization worldwide, has identified five developments in the market that could grow even bigger by 2030.

“The global composites market represents 81.6 billion euros (US$108.9 billion) in value for 2012," says Frédérique Mutel, JEC Group President and CEO. "This market is growing at an average of 6% per year. The composites industry is growing in volume in correlation with the increase of gross domestic product by country. And penetration continues in some sectors like Aeronautics. For instance, we expect the Composites market for Aerospace to be 4 times bigger than today by 2030. Also new applications in high volume markets continue to appear for instance in EEE (Electricity, Electronics & Consumer Goods), especially in Asia.

JEC Group has developed a Knowledge & Networking service package including three platforms in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas to cover the whole composites market. They enable the Group to detect main trends that contribute to the composites market growth. I can foresee five new trends that could change and boost the market, therefore contributing to make it bigger by the next five years. The forecast is 12 Millions of metric tons by 2017 (compared to 9.2 million metric tons in 2012).”

Converting processes towards mass production

Over the past few years, the composites sector has developed its ability to convert processes, including forlarge and complex-geometry parts. Large companies have invested heavily in these new technologies, which lower the cost of composite parts (eg thermal curing technology enables mass production in the aerospace and the automotive sectors). “Innovation is mainly directed towards manufacturing, and in particular, mass production notably in Europe” specifies Mutel. “For example, of all the patents granted for composites in Europe in 2011-2012, 52% involved robotics and automated manufacturing processes.”

Developing properties of thermoplastics

New resins, fibres and additives have been developed in order to improve mechanical, thermal or conductivity properties. This will have a huge impact on the automotive sector notably thanks to the revolutionizing thermoplastics resins.

Turning materials into smart composites

Here is another revolution for the sector: smart composites with sensors which enable companies to foresee the ageing process of the parts they create. They also enable the structures to repair themselves.

Conquering new application sectors

New sectors have started to turn to composites such as for instance, the energy sector (transmission and distribution), electronics and consumer goods (cell phones, tablets…) etc.

Using greener materials: recycling

Nowadays, finding a way to recycle has become one of the priorities. Recyclates are now used to produce new composites and are at use in other industries such as cement work.

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