How do you think these topics will evolve during 2015?
2015 will start a five-year program filled with expectations and excitement to explore, develop and test materials and products through shared R&D facilities that leverage extensive existing capabilities to develop high-throughput technologies and lower-cost materials to enhance US competitiveness. This will take major industry participation with focus on reducing technical risk and developing a robust supply chain to support a growing composites industry and this will be done with support and encouragement of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). This investment is timely to impact growing markets such as automotive and pressured storage vessels, but it is anticipated that the materials development and manufacturing process refinements will trickle into other markets and products.
The ACMA’s Composites Growth Initiative (CGI) will build on the success of the Composites Pavilion at the AIA show, with a larger footprint for the 2015 AIA show. The excitement of new materials has gotten the interest of architects. However, CGI does not stop here. We are giving a number of presentations and conducting workshops at a number of high value events like World of Concrete, ASCE Structures Congress, International Bridge Conference and we are exploring other opportunities to expose our industry to new and more customers.
What other topics or markets do you think should evolve during 2015?
A topic that will continue to grow will be sustainability. At CAMX, the green composites program was filled with presentations on recycling, life cycle assessments and sustainability. Our composites industry needs to learn about sustainability and how our materials fit in this space and how we compete with other materials like steel, aluminum and wood. The automotive market will continue to integrate more composites into many car platforms, but major innovations are needed to increase the production rate in order to compete with other materials. We are not going to see a composites-intensive car, we will see multi-material solutions. How composites works with other lightweighting materials such as aluminum, magnesium and plastics, as well as high-strength steels will be key. The infrastructure market is poised to have a real jolt if Congress can fund a long-term transportation bill that provides opportunities for many projects involving many materials, especially fiberglass rebar and bridge deck panels. We are starting to see some increased interest in attaching lightweight pedestrian walkways to existing bridges so as not to impact the design capacity of existing bridges. If we can make these pedestrian walkways attractive, there is a really good market here that has lots of exposure. Lastly, we cannot overlook the impact composites is making on commercial aircraft. Composites are being applied to most every aircraft being built today stemming from the success of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft market has not seen the full potential yet. Like everything else, education of engineers, architects, specifiers and customers’ needs to be a very important tactic in order to grow markets. ACMA’s Composites Growth Initiative is leading the charge to do just that and we believe that collectively, as a unified industry working together for the same goal, we can achieve great success.