The U.S. demand for fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composites is expected to reach $23 billion by 2017 as a result of major growth in the automotive and construction markets as the economy continues to improve. The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm, analyzes this growth in a new study titled Fiber-Reinforced Plastic Composites.

The composites industry faced hardships during the course of the Great Recession of 2007-2012. After a drop in the construction industry, a reduction of vehicle output and the collapse of the recreational boating market, opportunities for increased production declined.

The automotive and construction industry are the major outlets for FRP composites. Combined, these markets will make up more than three-quarters of the FRP demand through 2017. Automakers continue to find ways to enhance fuel efficiency, which will drive composite demand. Vehicle weight reduction represents a key strategy utilized by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to boost fuel economy and is often achieved through the use of lightweight composite materials. Consumer levels will continue to rise for the aerospace industry as well with the utilization of carbon fiber for commercial airplanes.

Thermoset polyester resin is leading the pack in the FRP composites market, with demand stemming from its widespread use in construction applications. Epoxy is estimated to see much faster growth, fueled by the rising use of carbon-epoxy composites in aerospace applications. The demand for thermoplastics such as nylon, thermoplastic polyester and polypropylene will be fueled by these materials’ design flexibility.

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As the U.S. demand for FRP composites continues to grow, being active with other like-minded individuals will be crucial. ACMA’s High Performance Council (HPC) focuses on growing products and market segments using high performance composites. For more information about the HPC or any of the Composite Growth Initiatives (CGI) committees, please contact Andrew Huber.