Rahul Pangre is the founder and director of Eternus Carbon Composites in Mumbai, India. His interest in car racing and bikes exposed him to advanced composites early in life. Inspired by the enormous world of possibilities composites offer, he founded Eternus Carbon Composites in 2002 with a focus on developing and promoting advanced composite applications.
What is your experience in the industrial composites market?
We initially focused on automotive applications since it had a low entry barrier. As we matured, we realized we needed to drive the commercialization of advanced composites if we are to succeed in the long term. That’s when we started to consciously focus on industrial applications. We slowly scaled ourselves up, starting with various components of equipment to industrial infrastructure. We still find the entry barrier to this industry very high primarily due to the approach of users who prefer a short-term profit versus a long-term profit. Also the awareness of advanced composites is very low, leading to suboptimal choices by the user.
What affect would widespread adoption of advanced composites have on industrial applications?
When advanced composites are abundantly used in industrial applications, I believe it will signify the dawn of a “composite age” ― probably with as much impact as the industrial age. But there are several factors delaying this revolution. First, a lack of awareness within the general industry about the potential applications and advantages of composites. Second, there is a lack of demo sites where our technology has been utilized and proven beneficial–there needs to be more such sites. Also, there is a significant lack of media coverage for such news. Third, users are typically driven by the short-term approach. We need to attack this strategically at a decision-making level other than the purchasing department. Fourth, increase cost competitiveness with regard to existing materials matters, though it need not be the same or cheaper than the existing materials. Fifth, manufacturing processes need to evolve to support the customization of products at reasonable prices. And lastly, the supply chain for advanced composites is very polarized to only a few locations. This needs to be rationalized.
Will there be more demand for custom-made structural truss/frames?
Few people realize the long-term advantages of using composites within industrial applications like buildings, cooling towers, etc. I foresee an increasing demand, although we don’t see this attaining a critical mass required for adoption by the entire industry in the near future. The retrofitting industry has improved significantly over the last few years. However, it is a service industry and not really a product industry.