Reflecting on what quickly emerged as a top trend at CAMX, David Hartman, senior technical staff and scientific advisor for Owens Corning, led off his presentation, “Advances in Reinforcement Materials,” by identifying sustainability as a market opportunity for GFRP. “Energy use availability and efficiency, climate change, population growth and consumption, construction and renewables are producing strong macro trends that will grow glass fiber markets,” said Hartman.

The $7 billion global market for glass fiber is being created by construction, transportation, industrial, consumer and wind energy applications. The result looks to be tighter capacity for GFRP production based on high facility utilization rates expected in the near term to top 90 percent.
Hartman sees future growth derived from global trends such as the production of clean energy; water infrastructure; urban infrastructure and housing for developing countries; and industrial lightweighting for modes of transportation.

There is growth of traditional applications for continuous fiber, chopped strand, non-wovens, chopped strand mat and continuous filament mat. In addition, the development of hybrid materials and hybrid technology integration for commercial wind turbine, commercial aircraft, structural automotive parts and consumer electronics has contributed to market growth. Hybrid technologies with multi-functionality have resulted in solutions that bring value.

The use of hybrid materials, through interactions between glass and carbon fiber, is influencing form and function. “Glass and carbon fiber complement each other,” said Hartman. “The selective placement of hybrid forms and multi-functional integration creates interesting values. Glass fiber enables carbon fiber dispersion, flow and wetting for improved injection, resin transfer molding, compression or extrusion. The result is better consistency and higher productivity.” Other advantages provided by hybrid FRP are further reduction of weight, increases in strain to failure for impact flexural fatigue, the isolation of galvanic corrosion and lower costs in carbon fiber structures.

Hartman applauds the collaborations that are taking place throughout the GFRP industry. “In the building and construction, transportation, wind energy and industrial applications, GFRP is proving very critical for cost reduction,” said Hartman. As a result, partnerships with automotive suppliers, resin suppliers, governmental entities and institutional partners are creating valuable solutions faster.