The composite material industry in the United States showed strong performance in 2017 despite some disruptions to supplies of raw materials, shortage of shipping containers, extended shipping times and the closure of factories along the Gulf Coast and southeastern coast due to the effects of Haval and Weema. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the impact of hurricanes has stabilized and all sectors have shown positive results.
In the composite industry, fiber glass is the main reinforcing material. The glass fiber of US market increased by 4% in 2017, reaching a sale of about 1.134 million tons and a value of 2.1 billion U.S. dollars. It is estimated that by 2023, the market scale will be enlarged and reach 1.4 million tons with a compound annual growth rate of 3.4%.
Transportation, construction, pipelines&storage tanks are the three major areas of fiberglass applications, accounting for 69% of the total. With housing starts in the United States, the positive growth in the automotive and oil and gas sectors, and the growth in water and grey water infrastructure, it is expected that the glass fiber market will be boosted in and after 2023.
In terms of supply and demand, the global glass fiber production capacity in 2017 will exceed 5.08 million tons, with a current utilization rate of 93%. With the increase in capacity of fiberglass suppliers, capacity utilization of glass fiber production lines will drop to about 91% by 2018.
Fiberglass market is constantly evolving, various terminal markets are emerging more and more applications. Purchasing decisions in most markets are continuously to be highly influenced by the price of GFRP components. In order to promote the growth of glass fiber market and competitive advantage, the industry needs to focus on the following points:
Price cuts: because of the competition with steel, aluminum and concrete, the glass fiber industry needs to find ways to reduce the cost of composite parts. There are many innovative opportunities to reduce raw material costs, labor costs, and energy costs for composite parts. For example, to compete with the $ 200 billion market for concrete rebar, glass rebar manufacturers must implement an innovative technology that uses glass fibers and sand to make rebar, reducing the cost of glass rebar by nearly 40 percent.
Innovative Manufacturing Technology: The industry needs to develop transformative manufacturing technologies that reduce cycle times and costs. There are many innovative opportunities for composite materials because of their flexibility in design, material selection, manufacturing and compounding.
Robust Supply Chain: With the increasing globalization in many industries such as automotive, wind energy, aerospace and electronics, the glass fiber industry needs to develop a global supply chain for raw materials, design, molds and manufacturing for composite investment. For example, Ford’s global production of vehicles and the desire to have the same parts supplier for their global production needs are critical to achieving a global footprint in the supply chain.
Better simulation and forecasting techniques: the market needs to invest in better composite parts manufacturing simulation software. In the steel industry, simulation software programs predict component tolerances, warpage, quality and reliability.
Maintenance and Recycling Technology Investments: the industry needs to address the challenges of OEM in repairing and recycling by developing cost-effective technologies and infrastructure.
In short, there will be significant innovation opportunities in every nodes of the composite material industry value chain, shenzhen core-tex will take this chance to provide the industry with more quality products.