3 Jul, 2020 By Johny 2 Comments
The Composite material industry status report and future outlook for year 2020–China market
In the past few years, China’s output of glass fiber and composite materials has been ahead of the world, and the output of glass fiber has exceeded 60% of the world’s total output. The annual production capacity of glass fiber in China’s composite material industry has exceeded 550 tons. For composite materials like this, these figures have declined in the past two years. The total volume of composite products in 2018 was 430 tons, a decrease of 3.15% from 2017. The downward trend continued in 2019, and from January to September, the total output of composite products fell by 8.5% from the decline in 2018.
The main reason for this downward trend is that since 2017, the Chinese government and composite materials industry have implemented a number of laws and regulations on environmental protection and other industry standards, resulting in the closure of a large number of composite material manufacturers and companies. The entire composites industry in China is undergoing transformation in order to promote more innovation, higher quality products, higher productivity, environmentally friendly operations, lower scrap rates, more optimized operations and more effective management.
Despite a slight decrease in total shipments, China’s leading composite materials company has received more orders, increased profits and increased rapidly, which is regarded as a direct beneficiary of the entire industry restructuring and optimization plan.
GFRP’s main markets in China include wind power, containers and tanks in the oil and gas industry, new rural construction and lightweight building materials. The rapid development of downstream markets in the fields of wind energy, solar panels and frames, automobiles, rail transit, modular and portable housing, modern agriculture and animal husbandry, intelligent logistics, 5G communications, etc. contributes to the healthy development of the GFRP and CFRP markets.
In the past few years, China’s carbon fiber composites industry has been growing steadily. There are six companies with an annual production capacity of more than 1,000 tons of carbon fiber. At present, the domestic carbon fiber production is about 8,000 tons, while the total carbon fiber consumption is 30,000 tons, and the import volume is 22,000 tons to meet the national market demand. China’s carbon fiber industry is still in its infancy, and emerging industries will take time.
Most carbon fiber users still have more trust in imported carbon fiber products because they believe that imported products are more guaranteed in quality and performance. Therefore, it is not production capacity, equipment or process that limits the growth of carbon fiber in China. On the contrary, the lack of recognition of domestic carbon fiber products by the market is currently the bottleneck restricting the development of China’s carbon fiber industry. For many applications, the use of domestic carbon fiber requires recertification. It is expected that by 2025, China’s carbon fiber industry will reach a breakthrough point, and domestic carbon fiber composite materials will exceed imports.
Like glass fiber, the carbon fiber industry has undergone reorganization and optimization. Several carbon fiber companies declared bankruptcy last year. CFRP’s driving applications in China include the wind energy industry, power transmission, electric vehicles, 3C (computers, mobile phones and communications, including 5G), sports and urban rail transit. Overall, China’s composite materials industry faces challenges from strict environmental regulations, rising prices of chemicals and raw materials, rising labor costs, and rising energy costs. Achieving competitiveness through innovation is the key. For example, the traditional hand lay-up molding process has been phased out in China. At present, advanced manufacturing equipment including closed resin high-pressure injection infiltration technology is needed. Automation will also become a necessary condition for improving operational competitiveness.
In 2019, China-US trade relations are at odds, and it seems that this relationship may not end soon. Multilateral trade, including Sino-European trade, has been affected, and global trade tensions are escalating. Currently, glass fiber, carbon fiber, basalt fiber and all composite.Products have been included in the US 25% tariff list. These global trade uncertainties have forced the Chinese composites industry to expand the domestic market.
In short, the future healthy growth of China’s composite materials industry will rely more on technological innovation and product quality improvement, rather than resources, cheap labor and expanding production capacity. The rural urbanization encouraged by the government, the development of modern agriculture and new initiatives in 5G communications will expand existing applications and open up new areas for composite materials and structures. Looking ahead, composite materials have bright prospects in China.