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Reinforced plastics demand in the US is projected to grow 2.5 percent annually to over four billion pounds in 2007, valued at $6.5 billion. This will create a market for 2.8 billion pounds of resin and 1.3 billion pounds of reinforcements. Gains will result from performance and cost advantages over metal, wood and glass in a variety of applications. Best opportunities are anticipated in producer durable equipment and construction markets based on needs for higher performing, cost effective materials. Constraining further reinforced plastic advances will be lackluster activity in motor vehicle and marine uses.
In 2002, Reinforced Plastics demand was 3.7 billion pounds, with the following breakdown:
– Construction 32%
– Motor Vehicles 31%
– Producer Durable Equipment 13%
– Marine 9%
– Consumer Durables &Other Markets 15%
Thermosets to remain dominant reinforced resin
Thermoset resins will remain dominant and account for 64 percent of all reinforced plastics demand in 2007. Reinforced thermoset demand, consisting largely of unsaturated polyester, will increase 2.3 percent annually through 2007 to 2.7 billion pounds. Reinforced polyester exhibits good weathering properties and heat and corrosion resistance, with good strength-to-weight ratios. It can be fabricated into a variety of rigid products, including boat hulls, storage tanks, shower enclosures, electrical components and pipe. Other rein-forced thermosets include epoxy, phenolic, polyurethane and melamine.
Thermoplastics to grow the fastest
Reinforced thermoplastics will exhibit more rapid growth based on customer demands for higher performing and more aesthetic products. Polypropylene, thermoplastic polyester, nylon and polycarbonate will present the best growth opportunities due to their suitability for a diverse range of applications.
Glass fibers will remain the leading reinforcement material due to their low cost and excellent performance. However, demand for carbon and other fibers will expand at a faster pace due to price reductions and greater use in sporting goods, aircraft and other uses which require heightened levels of rigidity strength, heat resistance or electrical properties.
Construction, motor vehicles to remain top markets
Construction and motor vehicles will remain the leading markets for reinforced plastics, together accounting for 63 percent of the total in 2007. Construction applications such as tanks and panels will be driven by the lower maintenance and corrosion resistant properties of reinforced products. Motor vehicle growth will be fueled by needs to reduce vehicular weight and maintenance, yet be severely constrained by high cyclical production levels in 2002 and competition from light weight steel.
Best opportunities, however, are expected for producer durable equipment such as industrial machinery, computers and office equipment in light of needs to improve productivity and utilize the latest technologies.
Details on these and other key findings are available in a new Freedonia study, Reinforced Plastics, priced at $3900. It presents US historical data (1992, 1997, 2002) data plus forecasts to 2007 and 2012 by resin (e.g., unsaturated polyester, epoxy, polypropylene, polyester, nylon); by reinforcing material (glass, carbon and aramid fibers); and by market (e.g., construction, motor vehicles, producer durable equipment).
The market environment analyzes developments in key end use markets such as construction and motor vehicles, and includes a discussion of competitive materials and recycling. The industry structure highlights factors such as merger and acquisition activity and research and development efforts. Profiles for 44 industry participants are also included.
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