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COMPOSITES EUROPE suffered from lower demand from exhibitors and visitors this year, in total organiser Reed Exhibitions registered 310 exhibitors and 7,581 visitors, a decrease of seven per cent in comparison to 2018.
Two industries – both key buyers of glass-fibre reinforced plastics (GFRP) – created most of the trade fair’s challenges: the automotive industry, which suffers massively from declining sales and fears trade barriers, and the plant and mechanical engineering sector, where the current economy has similarly depressed the numbers and the mood. Positive signals, meanwhile, are coming from aerospace and increasing demand in the construction sector.
“Trade fairs are seismographs of their industries – this is true as well for COMPOSITES EUROPE, which in an economically heterogeneous environment showed its importance for bringing new ideas and innovations to market,” says Michael Freter, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions Deutschland.
European GFRP market stagnates
The same conclusion is reflected in the market report presented in Stuttgart by AVK, Federation of Reinforced Plastics. After years of growth, it found, the market for glass-fibre reinforced plastics in Europe has stagnated in 2019. Total production volume in 2019 is on track to remain flat compared to the prior year, at 1.141 million metric tonnes.
The two main application areas for GFRP are construction/infrastructure and the transport sector. The current sales crisis in the automotive sector, which responds more quickly than the construction industry, shows up directly in the market developments expected by the GFRP industry. “Due to market shifts, the future market prospects of the construction/infrastructure sector must be seen for the first time as greater than those of the transport sector,” says Dr. Elmar Witten, Managing Director of AVK.
‘Process live’ shows progress in the process chain
A special focus of this year’s COMPOSITES EUROPE was on the digital process chain. Joining forces in group exhibits in the ‘Process live’ area, mechanical and plant engineering companies showed how their technologies interact – and they did so while operations were ongoing in order to demonstrate the individual processes in a larger context. Three exhibitors had participated in the debut of the area last year – this year there were already 16 companies.
Lightweight Technologies Forum
Once again this year, the Lightweight Technologies Forum showed how lightweight multi-material engineering can be implemented in an economic and resource-efficient way – in the automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering sectors. “In the lightweight construction landscape, COMPOSITES EUROPE and the Lightweight Technologies Forum serves as an important interface for metal and fibre-reinforced composite technologies,” says German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, underscoring the significance of the forum.
5th International Composites Conference (ICC)
Organised by AVK on behalf of Composites Germany, the International Composites Conference (ICC) coincided with COMPOSITES EUROPE. The trade fair and conference complemented each other, an example of this was the themed guided tours of the exhibition area.“Bringing together the conference programme and the trade fair is an important step in our quest to align the event even more strongly with the current challenges faced by processors and the user industries of fibre-reinforced plastics,” says Witten.
The 15th edition of COMPOSITES EUROPE will take place in Stuttgart from 10-12 November 2020.
Image provided by Composites Europe
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