A snapshot of key materials and markets in the global composites industry.

Although composites battle with traditional materials like steel and aluminum for market share, they are gaining traction worldwide. The global composites market size is expected to reach $130.8 billion by 2024 and expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent over the forecast period, according to a report by Grand View Research Inc.

What does 2019 – and beyond – have in store for the composites industry? That’s admittedly hard to nail down considering the industry comprises such a vast range of raw materials and end-use products. In this year’s annual State of the Industry report, experts offer insight into six specific areas – two main reinforcements, two primary market segments and two regions of the world.

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

The composites industry is enjoying its ninth successive year of growth, with significant opportunities across numerous vertical markets. Overall, the U.S. composites industry provided opportunity valued at $25.2 billion in 2018 for a wide variety of products, including rebar, wind blades, pipes, tanks, bath tubs, automotive components and more. As the major reinforcing material, glass fiber is helping to drive that opportunity.

The glass fiber market grew by 2.9 percent in 2018, reaching 2.5 billion pounds in terms of volume and $2.1 billion in terms of value. Glass fiber demand for the U.S. is expected to reach 3 billion pounds by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.8 percent.

Figure 1

glass-fiber-demand-2012-2017

Source: Lucintel

With regard to supply and demand, global glass fiber capacity was 10.9 billion pounds in 2018 and is currently running at 91 percent utilization. (See Figure 1.) Fiberglass plant capacity will increase in 2019 as several major glass fiber producers build new plants throughout the world.

Owens Corning is expanding its glass fiber production capacity in Chambery, France, which will help the company fulfill growing demand for thermoplastics in Europe. The company also entered into a strategic cooperation and supply agreement with Chongqing Polycomp International Corp. (CPIC) for joint investment in technology, construction and operation of a new manufacturing facility for high-modulus glass fiber products in China. With an annual production capacity of 110,000 metric tons, the new facility is expected to be operational by mid-2019 and will help serve the growing wind energy market.

Other glass fiber suppliers expanding their capacity include Jushi China and Nippon Electric Glass Co. Ltd. (NEG). Jushi China is building a 200,000-ton capacity plant in Egypt and has set up a production plant in South Carolina with 80,000 tons of capacity that was expected to come on-stream by the end of 2018. In 2017, NEG acquired the U.S. glass fiber business of PPG Industries to expand its presence in the United States.