Within aerospace, composite materials demand grew by 10.7 percent in 2014. Composites provide numerous advantages in this segment: They are lightweight with higher strength than competing materials, which results in improved fuel efficiency, an increase in passenger carrying capacity, low emissions and low maintenance costs.
Composite material consumption has increased significantly in the commercial aerospace sector, from 5 to 6 percent in the 1990s to more than 50 percent in today’s advanced aircraft programs, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350. Composites usage will continue to grow because of increased production of advanced aircraft models. With more people flying, the demand for commercial aircraft will subsequently increase. Furthermore, there’s been an escalation in production to fill the huge pile of order backlogs (notably within the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 families of aircraft), which also accelerates demand for composite materials.
The main impetus for growth in the construction industry is housing starts, which grew 5.3 percent in 2014. Another contributing factor is government allocation of funds for retrofitting old infrastructures, especially bridges and roads. Within construction, composites demand registered 4.9 percent growth in 2013. This market continues to be the second largest (after transportation) for composite materials by volume.
While construction is a sizable market, composites penetration is very low compared to other materials. However, composites are found in numerous applications, including grating, rebar, handrails, structural profiles, utility poles and bridges.