Although GFRP production in Europe continues to grow, its volume still lags behind the global market trend. Production volumes in Asia and America, in particular, have been growing at well over 2 percent in recent years.
An analysis broken down by country highlights various trends within Europe. There are major differences between regional markets which require individual analysis. For example, GFRP processing in Germany has a strong focus on the transportation sector and the electro/electronics industry. By comparison, the infrastructure market is thriving in Turkey, while the oil and gas industry is strong in Norway and Sweden.
On a positive note, production did not decline in any European regions reviewed. The southern European countries of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy are all reporting above average growth rates this year. Since 2012, the production volume in Spain and Portugal has clearly stabilized, and the recent trend has been upward. Germany continues to be the European leader in composites, with a total production volume of 229,000 metric tons in 2018. While Germany retained the leading position, its growth lagged behind the overall market trend.
Market growth in eastern European countries is above average at 2.5 percent. In the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland, reported levels remain unchanged and thus below average. Production in the United Kingdom and Ireland grew by just 1.3 percent.
Despite the difficulty of predicting future trends, it is possible to identify more general tides and currents that have the potential to influence ongoing development of the GFRP market. The automotive sector, for example, is currently undergoing major changes. While challenging, these changes present opportunities for manufacturers to choose and invest in new materials. In addition to being light, GFRP offers a wide range of advantages for many segments of the transportation sector, including electro mobility. Additional advantages include reduced energy consumption, durability and minimal maintenance. Composites are also nonconductive and offer excellent performance at a relatively low cost.
Alongside established materials used in series production, such as SMC/BMC and thermoplastics, established continuous processes, such as pultrusion, are again becoming a focus of attention.
Various market segments also offer hope for an increase in GFRP production. GFRP has the potential to play a greater role in antenna construction and building cladding. Composites already play a key role in lightweight construction concepts used in the growing aerospace sector. The energy sector is also expanding, becoming increasingly important over recent years. This trend will continue for years to come.