A global outlook at materials and markets for composites.

The future of the global composites market is bright. There is increased demand for lightweight materials across market segments for products as varied as large aerospace components and small consumer goods. Composites fit the bill.

The global composites end product market is expected to reach $113.2 billion by 2022, according to market research firm Lucintel. So what does that mean for composite manufacturers and their material suppliers? Industry experts weigh in on five specific areas in this year’s annual State of the Industry report.

The Glass Fiber Market
By Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO
Lucintel

Overall, the U.S. composites industry had a strong performance in 2017, despite disruption in some raw material supplies, shortages of shipping containers, longer shipping times and plant shutdowns in the Gulf Coast and Southeast due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In the fourth quarter of 2017, impact from the hurricanes stabilized, with all segments showing positive results.

In the composites industry, glass fiber is the major reinforcing material. The U.S. glass fiber market grew by 4 percent in 2017 to reach 2.5 billion pounds in terms of volume and $2.1 billion in terms of value. The market is expected to reach 3.1 billion pounds by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 3.4 percent.

glass-fiber-demand-2012-2017

Source: Lucintel

Transportation, construction, and pipe and tank are the three major segments for glass fiber, representing 69 percent of the total volume. Increasing housing starts, automotive production and positive growth in oil and gas activities, along with growth in water and wastewater infrastructure in U.S., are expected to drive the glass fiber market through 2023 and beyond.

In terms of supply and demand, the global glass fiber capacity was 11.2 billion pounds in 2017 and is currently running at 93 percent utilization. (See figure 1.) Lucintel predicts that the glass fiber plant capacity utilization will go down to approximately 91 percent in 2018 as glass fiber suppliers increase production capacity. For example, in 2018, Owens Corning plans to build additional capacity in France and India, Jushi and Johns Manville plan to add capacity in the U.S., Taishan is investing in India and Şişecam Group is installing a new plant in Turkey.

The glass fiber market is evolving as there are more and more applications emerging in various end markets. Purchasing decisions in most of the markets continue to be highly influenced by the price of GFRP components. To drive growth and competitive edge in the fiberglass market, the industry needs to focus on the following: