Composites provide significant flexibility in train design and help optimize train performance. Composite materials are largely used in the rail industry, wherein performance improvement is critical and the need to meet regulatory requirements is mandatory. The usage of composite materials in engineering designs has also become essential because of their satisfactory performance in extreme conditions such as high temperature, moisture, pressure, corrosion, and high stress. Rail composites lower energy consumption, facilitate the dampening of vibration to reduce noise levels, and improve passenger comfort.
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Various other benefits associated with the reduction of railway weight are lower inertia, less track wear, enhanced stability, and ability to achieve high speed. Demand for composites has increased in the railway sector, led by the implementation of extensive research and cost-effective mass production techniques. Rail composites primarily comprise metal or non-metal honeycomb and sandwich constructions. These are used in various applications in railways.
The global rail composites market is primarily driven by government initiatives across countries to embark upon large number of projects and deliver industry-oriented rail composites. Furthermore, increase in pricing pressure on energy resources and implementation of stringent environmental regulations are driving the need for substantial improvements in the performance of materials used in engineering and manufacturing. Rail composites offer the dual feature of mechanical properties and esthetic appearance. Therefore, rail composites have been identified as potential materials for the global transportation industry. Demand and consumption of rail composites is expected to rise significantly in the near future owing to implementation of stringent quality requirements.
Based on application, the rail composites market can be bifurcated into interior and exterior. Demand for interior components is high. Increase in demand for high performance, fire retardant materials with good esthetic properties is the major factor anticipated to boost the interior segment during the forecast period. Decrease in cost of rail composite processing and lower cycle time are further estimated to propel the global rail composites market during the forecast period.
In terms of type of fiber, the rail composites market can be divided into glass fiber composite, carbon fiber composite, and other composite. Among them, glass fiber composite was the highly consumed type of rail composites across the globe. Rail composite materials mentioned above offer superior properties than conventional materials. They are also flexible; thus, they can be molded in any shape. The carbon fiber composite segment is also estimated to expand significantly owing to the light weight properties.
Based on geography, the rail composites market can be segregated into North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific led the global rail composites market over the last decade due to the rise in usage of rail composites in the transportation industry in the region. This trend is projected to continue during the forecast period. China, India, and Japan are projected to be key countries of the rail composites market owing to the availability of economical labor; and high demand for materials that offer long-term service, reduced maintenance costs, and improved resistance to wear and tear. Railway composites lower energy consumption and operating costs. Furthermore, rail composites are being used increasingly in passenger coaches, due to their exceptional structural qualities and the ability to impart enhanced esthetic value. These factors are likely to augment market growth. The most important trend in the global rail composites market is hybrid construction, i.e. using several materials to form one component.
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Key players operating in the rail composites market include Toray Industries Inc. (Japan), Cytec Industries Inc. (U.S.), Koninklijke Ten Cate nv (the Netherlands), and Gurit Holding AG (Switzerland).