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According to a soon-to-be-released report from BCC Research, structural carbon fibre materials are expected to grow by 6.6 percent to $2.2 billion in 2011.
The report, Advanced Structural Carbon Products: Fibres, Foams and Composites from Business Communications, the structural carbon materials industry is at a crossroads. It serves mature industries like defence and aerospace with a wide variety of products satisfying the requirements of well-established applications.
The report suggests that the sectors are heavily regulated. However, continuous technical innovation and attempts to make its technologies available to civil markets at affordable prices are leading to new application segments. Over the next half-decade, significant change will take place in global structural carbon products and applications. Technological advances in improving structure-property relationships of advanced carbon materials and breakthroughs in the manufacturing processes resulting in lower costs will lead to novel applications.
Continued expansion of the U.S. economy after the recent slowdown, the war on terrorism, the ability of manufacturers to expand in high-volume, nontraditional applications (such as wind energy generation and civil infrastructure), and changes to governmental spending outlays (such as speculated 70% reduction in the Joint Striker Fighter development) in traditional sectors coupled with shift towards more composite usage (such as Boeing 7E7) will impact the forecasted growth rate.
The ability of carbon fibre manufacturers to reduce production costs and thus diversify into high-volume non-traditional markets will be the principle driver of this sector’s 6.6% growth rate. The average price of carbon fibre will continue to erode due to a projected onslaught of low-end production. The market size for carbon fibres is forecast to be $878 million in 2011.
Carbon foams offer an isotropic carbon reinforcement alternative to the composites manufacturers. Continued investments in research and development, and increased acceptance in novel commercial applications will contribute to rapid growth of 16.9% over the forecast period from a small base.
Carbon-carbon composites are primarily used in high-temperature applications that demand structural integrity. They will have the leading market share of advanced structural carbons market during the forecast period. Applications in the brake disc industry will continue to utilize most of the carbon-carbon composite production. By 2011, the market size for carbon-carbon composite is expected to be the $970 million.
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