19 May, 2020 By Johny 2 Comments

The Composite material industry status report and future outlook for year 2020–Carbon Fiber

         In 2019, the total global demand for carbon fiber is about 100,000 metric tons. Due to the increased use of carbon fiber in aerospace, wind turbine blades and several other industrial applications, the market continues to grow at a rate of 10 to 12% per year. This growth rate is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

The market segment for carbon fiber use is as follows:

Wind energy – 25%

Aerospace – 20%

Sporting goods – 10 to 12%

Automotive industry – 10 to 12%

Injection molding plastic composites – 5 to 8%

Pressure vessel – 5 to 8%

Construction and infrastructure – 5 to 8%

Other markets – 15%

       With more industrial applications and new projects to promote production, all the above market segments will show huge growth potential.

        In order to be recognized in various applications, CFRP must demonstrate both technical and economic benefits. The main technical advantage of using carbon fiber in most applications is the high specific strength of the material (that is, the strength per unit weight), which can produce a lighter weight and more efficient structure. For example, incorporating carbon fibers into wind turbine blades results in lighter, more efficient aerodynamic shapes and blade designs. In automobiles, the weight of certain parts and components made of CFRP can be reduced by 50% to 75%, thereby improving fuel consumption and CO2 performance, or significantly expanding the driving range of battery-powered electric vehicles. If we continue to develop and adopt at the current rate, the future market segment situation may be very different from today’s situation.

       Another factor affecting the market is that the industry capacity of carbon fiber production is tightening. The nameplate capacity (rated capacity) of carbon fiber manufacturers added together maybe 140,000 metric tons or more. However, considering the variety and diversity of the products produced and the safety factor related to the production process, the effective industry net capacity maybe only about 110,000 tons. As a result, various manufacturers worldwide including North America (Mexico and the United States), Europe (Hungary and Turkey) and Asia (China) are still expanding their production capacity and announcing several new plants.

        In order for carbon fiber to gain a greater share of the overall composites market, the key is to expand the amount. The large number of applications and widespread adoption of CFRP require lower costs-the cost of carbon fiber materials and the manufacturing cost of CFRP parts. Airplanes produce one a day, cars make one every minute, and wind turbine blades, sporting goods, and other applications fall somewhere in their production scale. The relationship between quantity and cost is a “chicken or egg” situation: which one occurs first? However, we are confident that if industry professionals work together, a large number of applications will become a reality and lead to the necessary lower cost and higher acceptance.

        There are other problems. For example, millions of cars need to adopt CFRP in large amounts every day, which is beyond pure technical and economic considerations. Sustainability and recycling also need to be addressed. However, up and down the value chain is currently addressing these issues.

         In summary, the market for carbon fiber materials and CFRP end products is growing steadily. Demand has caught up with the current available production capacity, and the industry has announced new projects to expand production capacity and will start production in time. However, as always, the secret to continuing to broaden the potential demand for carbon fiber in all end uses is still to use the right materials in the right way. The future of carbon fiber is full of hope, and the development in the next few years is eagerly awaited.


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