2010 European Market Almost Recovered to 2008 Levels

01 October 2010

According to a report by AVK, the 2010 market for fibre composite plastics / composites is expected to considerably exceed predictions made in late 2009.

By the end of 2010, the entire production volume of the European market considered in this context is likely to increase by approximately 25 % as compared to the previous year.

This development reveals a surprisingly rapid recovery almost to the level seen in 2008. However, not all companies or even all countries are profiting from this generally positive trend in quite the same way. Growth rates may vary considerably, depending on the areas of component application, the production / processing techniques, and the company size. Markets continue to be highly dynamic. On the one hand, additional growth impetus is to be expected wherever economically efficient weight reductions may be realised.

On the other hand, the fact that market developments are so difficult to predict means that investments that are frequently required for business expansion are sometimes cancelled or postponed. Composites still possess an enormous unexhausted potential in conjunction with the sustainable substitution of ‘traditional’ materials.

Fibre-Reinforced Plastics: Market Data and Market Development in 2010

As in the year before, the German association AVK - Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e.V. (Federation of Reinforced Plastics) once again conducted a survey in 2010 in order to obtain data regarding production volumes for fibre-reinforced plastics throughout Europe. In order to obtain comparable data, the ‘entire’ European market analysed in this context was once more limited to those countries that are explicitly familiar to raw materials suppliers interviewed in this context. Market data collection focused on glass fibres for reinforcement that are still dominating the market in quantitative terms, being used for about 90% of the entire composites volume.

After its collapse in 2009, the CRP market is clearly recovering in 2010. It hit the bottom of the economic recession but has picked up significantly in the meantime. By 2011, the market is expected to recover to levels last seen in 2008. The long-term predicted annual growth of the global market between 2013 and 2018 is 12.0 %; up until 2015, market revenues may more or less double to about 14 x 109 Euros from 2009 [ACM]. Thus, the industry is now facing a limited phase with less revenues – and should not forget to invest in the future. After all, if the demand increases quite as drastically as anticipated, new, quick automatic production techniques will be needed to satisfy the need. The crisis has come to an end and the market is going to pick up soon.

Owing to the predicted high growth rates in all market segments, it is important to address recycling questions as soon as possible so as to efficiently cope with future CRP waste. In the aviation sector as well as in wind energy, reutilisation of CRP or GRP is still uncommon. Although alternative strategies are available, energy production and recovery is currently the state of the art. The volumes produced now do not yet constitute a major problem. In the automotive sector, on the other hand, CRP is competing with aluminium and steel. Both are excellent materials from an ecological point of view, since they may be molten down and reused practically indefinitely. Long-term sustainable solutions are to be found regarding the predicted growth of the fibre composite market. Initial attempts have been made. In Stade, for instance, a CRP Recycling Center – the first of its kind in Europe – is being built in conjunction with a research and development project. This location is targeted for the commercial material recycling of waste materials containing carbon fibres. All of this shows a medium-term to long-term trend towards the development of sustainable recycling technologies.

The report s authored by Dr. Elmar Witten, Managing Director of the AVK - Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe (Federation of Reinforced Plastics).

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