The new year is an ideal opportunity to look back on how far we’ve come. To help reflect on the state of the composites industry, Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO of Lucintel, has provided the 2015 State of the Industry in the January/February issue of Composites Manufacturing. In it, Dr. Mazumdar notes the most popular markets and the markets with the most potential.
Composites Manufacturing Interviews sat down with Dr. Mazumdar to glean more insight into how the composites industry is growing, where it’s headed and how those in the industry can keep it moving forward.
What trends did you find for 2014 that surprised you?
I was impressed by the development of materials and manufacturing processes addressing the requirement of low cycle times for high volume processes. Cure time has been a big challenge for faster processing of epoxy resins, and recently Huntsman and Momentive have developed one- to two-minute cure epoxy resins to meet the market needs. Similarly, there are equipment suppliers, such as Globe Machine, who have developed machines to make composite parts in less than two minutes cycle time using aerospace-grade prepregs. It should be noted here that in the past, cure cycle time used to be 30 to 120 minutes with epoxy resins; processing prepregs and resins in less than two minutes has been a remarkable achievement by the industry players.
How can composites manufacturers work to boost demand for their specific markets?
Composites manufacturers need to have a multi-prong approach to drive growth of composites in various markets as follows:
- Making composites competitive with steel and aluminum in terms of price
- Developing technology and infrastructure for composites recycling and repair – especially for automotive, aerospace, construction, pipe, tanks and wind energy
- Educating civil and automotive engineers about the benefits of composites and the ways to use composites
- Identifying unmet needs in the market and addressing them with game-changer ideas
- Developing growth plans based on market intelligence
At CAMX 2014, you mentioned in your education sessions that composites manufacturers may want to consider not thinking of traditional material manufacturers as competitors, and instead work with them to create more composites with traditional materials. How do you see this as a way to advance the industry? How could it affect sales of other CFRP or GFRP composites?
Steel and aluminum suppliers think of composite materials as a potential threat for their business and this might become one of the key hindrances for the composites industry to realize its full potential.