Six industry experts focus on the future of composites.

In 2019, Composites Manufacturing magazine covered innovations throughout the industry, from experimental wind turbines and structural composites on electric vehicles to 3D tooling and automated manufacturing operations. The editorial team is excited to see what’s in store for 2020. We kick off the New Year with our annual State of the Industry report, looking at key materials and markets in the industry.

The Glass Fiber Market

By Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO

Lucintel

Against the backdrop of unresolved U.S./China trade disputes, the U.S. composites industry remains positive and continues to show growth, driven particularly by the wind energy, aerospace and construction industries. Overall, the U.S. composite end products market was valued at $26.7 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow at 3.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the next five years to reach $33.4 billion in 2025. Glass fiber-based composites dominate the market, followed by carbon fiber-based composites.

In the U.S., glass fiber is a major reinforcing material, growing by 1.7% in 2019 and reaching 2.6 billion pounds in terms of volume and $2.2 billion in terms of value. The glass fiber demand for the U.S. is expected to reach 3 billion pounds by 2025 with a CAGR of 2.4%.

Owens Corning, Jushi, Nippon Electric Glass, CPIC and Johns Manville are some of the top suppliers of glass fiber in the U.S. The glass fiber industry is quite consolidated, with the top three companies accounting for more than 50% of the total output by value.

The main consumers of glass fiber in the U.S. are the transportation (including automotive), construction, and pipe and tank segments. Together, they represent 69% of the total usage. Future trends indicate that these key sectors offer significant growth potential for the U.S. composites industry. Increasing residential and commercial construction, continuous growth in oil and gas activities and water/wastewater infrastructure, and rising demand for lightweight vehicles are expected to drive this market.

The transportation market, which includes buses, coaches, commercial vehicles and automobiles, is expected to be one of the biggest U.S. markets in the next five to 10 years. Key vehicle manufacturers are investing in composite materials technology to reduce weight and meet the legislated carbon emission reduction targets.

In the construction industry, common applications for GFRP include paneling, bathrooms and shower stalls, doors and windows. Glass fiber demand in construction registered 1.5% growth in 2019 in terms of value shipment. The growth is driven by a continuous increase in employment, low mortgage rates and slowing house price inflation.