Marine: Steady Recovery with Economy
The U.S. marine market was severely impacted by the faltering economy during 2008-2009. The global financial crisis affected the marine industry and severely impaired consumer confidence, tightening liquidity and increasing interest rates. These factors affected the sales of composite boats, and the industry has witnessed a decline in the number of boat manufacturers over the past five years. The U.S. marine market was estimated to grow by 6.6 percent in 2012 due to the improving economy and increases in consumer spending.
In the U.S., approximately 70 percent of boats are made using composite materials in applications such as boat hulls, decks, bulkheads, cockpits, hatches, lids, interiors and engine parts. In the marine industry, glass roving, woven fabrics, mats, vinyl ester resins, polyester resins, epoxy resins, balsa, foam, and honeycomb cores, gel coats, fillers and adhesives are used.
In 2012, composites consumption in marine applications and the number of boats produced grew in tandem, at a rate of about 6 percent over 2011. Both the retail and wholesale boat markets are improving. The major drivers for increasing boat units are improving consumer sentiment and a stabilizing residential real estate market. The marine market also increased due to favorable trends in the U.S. fiberglass outboard boat market and strong growth in parts and accessories sales.
Underserved Markets in the Composites Industry
There are more than 30,000 composites applications and identifying the right opportunities for growth is critical for success. In many application areas, composites penetration is less than 2 percent and thus it provides opportunities for growth.
In order to identify new opportunities for growth, composite materials suppliers and part fabricators can focus their strategy to align themselves with underserved markets where composites offer better options based on life cycle costs and performance benefits. There is both opportunity and risk in entering these underserved markets, and sophisticated analytical tools and data driven decisions would reduce risks. The charts on pages X and X depict the industries and applications where composites penetration is low and strength-to-weight requirement is high. Automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, high-pressure tanks, electronics and medical are some of the good industries for composites opportunity in the next 10 years.