Comparison of composite materials industry in China and India

Comparison of composite materials industry in China and India

China and India are the two most populous countries in the world, accounting for 18.9% and 17.6% of the world’s population, respectively. China is the country that produces the most composite materials, but the composites production of India is 10 times less than China.

According to China Fiberglass Industry Association and China Composites Industry Association, China’s composite materials production reached 4.33 million tons in 2014, an increase of 5.6% over 2013.

In this growing trend, the growth rate of thermoplastic composites exceeds that of thermoset composites, following global trends. Thermoplastic composites accounted for only 27.7% of the market in 2010 and reached 37.2% in 2014. In 2014, thermoplastic composites increased by 17.9% compared to 2013, while thermoset composites only increased by 0.4%.

China is the largest producer of glass fiber (glass fiber reinforced materials) for composite materials in the world. In 2014, its output reached 3.08 million tons, an increase of 8.07% over 2013. In 2014, the export volume of China’s glass fiber reinforced materials was 1.29 million tons (up 8.35%), and the import volume was 245,000 tons (up 5.11%), so the actual domestic consumption was 2.03 million tons (up 7.4%). Since the increase in consumption is less than the increase in production, the export volume has increased.

The carbon fiber market situation in China is quite different. Except for four or five “first-class” manufacturers that are of concern to the Chinese government, most other carbon fiber manufacturers cannot produce sufficient quantities of carbon fiber with stable quality. According to the above association, China’s carbon fiber production in 2014 was 3,200 tons, and the amount is estimated to be 15,000 tons.

India began producing composite materials in 1962, reaching 314,000 tons in 2014. This market is far from stable and still faces economic uncertainty.

In 2014, the output of glass fiber reinforced materials in India was 87,000 tons, and the export volume was 11,000 tons and the import volume was 43,000 tons. Therefore, the actual consumption was 119,000 tons. Unsaturated polyester resin production was 225,000 tons, of which 143,000 tons were used for composite materials.

More than 1,200 companies in India are involved in composite materials, which are basically located in southern India. The main manufacturing process for composite materials is hand lay-up, which accounted for 42% in 2014. Other processes such as winding and pultrusion have continued to grow. The number of winding machines has increased five times in five years, slightly over 100, and the number of pultrusion machines has increased four-fold to about 100.

The six largest composite applications of India are transportation, construction and construction, electrical and electronic equipment, infrastructure, chemical anti-corrosion, and wind energy, which in turn account for 19%, 15%, 14%, 13%, 13%, and 12%. Thermoplastic composites account for only 11% in India.

Although not clear yet, the growth potential of composite materials in India is huge. This is reflected in India’s demand for infrastructure, water treatment systems and energy production. The agricultural and marine sectors are also receiving attention. Furthermore, the Indian government wants 30% of all its aerospace and defense equipment to be produced locally.