In addition, there is a significant increase in glass fiber capacity in the Middle East by Chinese manufacturers. In 2013, Jushi established a plant capacity of 80,000 tons (176.3 million pounds) in Egypt and added another 80,000 tons in 2016. By 2017-2018, the total annual capacity of Jushi’s Egyptian site is planned to reach up to 200,000 tons (440.8 million pounds), whereas CPIC formed a joint venture with Abahsain Fiberglass ME (AFG) to build a plant with a capacity of 200,000 tons per year.

Apart from plant capacity expansion, numerous companies are developing advanced glass fibers, with a trend toward increased tensile strength, modulus and temperature resistance. In the wind energy market, increasing blade length requires the use of high-performance materials to increase stiffness and reduce weight. To address these challenges, Owens Corning, Jushi and AGY have launched high strength and stiffness glass fibers. For electronics, AGY has recently introduced S-3 HDI® yarns to meet the need for low coefficient of thermal expansion and high modulus materials for integrated circuit package substrates.

Global Glass Fiber Demand and Capacity from 2011 to 2016

Source: Lucintel’s market report, “Growth Opportunities in the Global Glass Fiber Market”

To meet market demand for stronger materials and compete with carbon fiber and other materials, glass manufacturers are working to develop glass fiber with tensile strength two to three times higher than existing products. Applications such as wind blades, bicycle frames and various automotive and aerospace parts require high modulus to withstand bending and strain.

In conclusion, there will be significant future opportunities for GFRP composites. To capture future growth and profit from these opportunities, OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and material suppliers need to work together, deploy the appropriate investments and resources, and develop new technologies to execute strategic objectives around light weight, low cost, composites repair and recycling.