A look at five key areas in the composites industry.

Since 1960, the U.S. composites industry has grown 25 times, whereas the steel industry has only grown 1.5 times and the aluminum industry is three times larger, according to market research firm Lucintel. That’s good news for composites, but to understand the growth – and ensure it continues in the future – it’s important to dig deeper into the numbers and break down the industry into segments.

In this year’s annual State of the Industry report, Composites Manufacturing magazine asked several industry experts to share insight in key areas – glass fiber, carbon fiber, aerospace and automotive. We also got a report on the European market to highlight the global impact of composites.

The Glass Fiber Market

By Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO of Lucintel

In 2016, the U.S. composite materials market grew by 3.7 percent to reach $8 billion in value. It is expected to reach $10.6 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9 percent. Major drivers in the market include increased demand for lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicles, growth in new construction, upgrade of old infrastructures and increased demand for wind energy.

As more original equipment manufacturers utilize composites in various applications, the future of glass fiber composites looks promising. Across industries, end users are looking for products that offer better value for their money, superior quality and increased lifespans. In turn, the composites industry is shifting gears and investing in new R&D initiatives and attempting to capture business and applications previously considered out of reach.

Glass fiber – the predominantly used reinforcement – is expected to reach $9.3 billion worldwide by 2022, with a CAGR of 4.5 percent since 2016. The growth in construction and infrastructure development, increase in automotive production and development of water infrastructure and sewage systems are drivers in the glass fiber market. The global demand for clean energy and infrastructure upgrades also will help to boost glass fiber demand in the future.

On the supply side, Lucintel estimates an expansion or upgrade of existing facilities by at least 20 percent to meet glass fiber demand in the next two to three years. In 2016, the global glass fiber capacity was 11 billion pounds for composites, and the current rate of utilization is approximately 91 percent.

In recent years, there have been strategic shifts within glass fiber manufacturers to expand glass fiber operations in the U.S. and around world. Johns Manville, AGY, Chongqing Polycomp International Corporation (CPIC) and Jushi are setting up glass fiber units in North America and South America. European glass fiber manufacturers are also expanding their capacity to fill the vacuum that was created after imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese manufacturers. LANXESS has invested $19.5 million to expand glass fiber plant capacity in Belgium, while Johns Manville has invested $65 million to expand glass fiber plant capacity in Slovakia.