Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is a light and strong fiber reinforced polymer containing carbon fiber. CFRP is made of two distinct elements: binding polymer and reinforcement. The binding polymer is often a thermoset resin such as epoxy to bind the carbon reinforcements. The properties of CFRP depend upon the thermoset resin and reinforcement element. CFRP has properties such as low coefficient of thermal expansion, high fatigue resistance, high tensile and compressive strength, and easy workability. Hence, it is being used as an alternative for conventional materials such as steel, iron, and alloys of other metals in automotive manufacturing.
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CRFP is widely used in premium and luxury cars due to high strength and light weight. Until recently, usage of CFRP had been limited due to high cost. However, increasing emphasis to achieve fuel economy and reduce vehicular emission as laid down by CAFÉ standards has induced OEMs and auto manufacturers to utilize CFRP to build body panels for high-end cars. A vehicle’s weight can be reduced by 100 kg to 150 kg by substituting metals with carbon composite materials in load bearing structural components.
Development of the wind power market, deeper oil & gas exploration, rapid urbanization and industrialization, and developing infrastructure in Asia are the major drivers of the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market. The carbon fiber reinforced plastics market is expected to be driven by the growth in the automotive and aerospace industries. Asia Pacific and GCC Countries are expected to be potential markets for carbon fiber reinforced plastics due to expanding infrastructure.
Based on type, the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market can be segmented into two categories: thermosetting and thermoplastic. In terms of product type, the market can be categorized into PAN-based, pitch-based, and rayon-based. PAN refers to polyacrylonitrile, while pitch is a viscoelastic material produced through distillation. Demand for PAN-based carbon fiber reinforced plastic is projected to be high due to its high tensile strength. However, the manufacturing process is complicated and expensive. Nevertheless, properties such as high strength, tensile strength, and low density are likely to offset these restraints. These factors are anticipated to boost the growth of the market during the forecast period.
In terms of region, North America is a major market for CFRP due to presence of large aircraft manufacturing enterprises and defense companies and a shift toward usage of advanced lightweight materials in automotive manufacturing. Rising demand for CFRP in the rapidly growing aviation and automotive sectors in emerging countries such as China and India is expected to propel the market in Asia Pacific.
Apart from the automotive industry, CFRP is widely used in the aerospace, wind, power, and oil & gas industries. However, high cost, longer processing times, and slow adoption of CFRP have limited its usage in mass market applications. Sports goods is an ideal market for CFRP for early penetration as it is already used in fishing rods, golf shafts, and tennis rackets, and being increasingly utilized in softball bats, hockey sticks, and bicycles. The aerospace industry has been the largest consumer of CFRP and other advanced materials. Owing to the declining prices of jet fuel hitting the bottom in recent years, aerospace companies are at the forefront of incorporating lighter materials in aircraft construction.
Demand for CFRP is high in the manufacture of wind turbines. Glass fiber reinforced plastic is the commonly used structural material in turbine blades; however, increasing shift toward larger installations offshore along with stringent renewable energy standards is expected to drive the adoption of CFRP in the industry in the near future. Fossil fuel is being increasingly found in deeper, harsher, and more remote locations. Hence, demand for structural materials such as CFRP in exploration and production equipment is high in the oil & gas industry. However, because of long development timelines oil and gas industry, it is a slow moving industry but indeed with large potential in terms of demand for CFRP.
Some of the underlying drivers for the global carbon fiber reinforced plastic market are identified as development of wind power market, deeper oil and gas exploration, urbanization trend, rapid industrialization, and developing infrastructure prospects in Asian region. The growth of carbon fiber reinforced plastic market is expected to be in-line with development of automotive and aerospace industry. High growth potential for carbon fiber reinforced market is expected to come from Asia-Pacific and GCC region aided by the growing infrastructure in the region.
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Major players in the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market include Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd., Cytec Industries, Inc., SGL Group, Inc., Toray Industries, Inc., Hexcel Corp., Gurit Holdings, and Magna International, Inc.
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