March 15, 2018
Aided by a smooth shift in the design methodology of aircraft component development, aerospace composites market has emerged as a viable growth avenue for aircraft manufacturers. Earlier, composite materials were preferred solely for developing military aircraft, however, the trend has been changing remarkably of late. Composite materials are now being prominently used in many commercial purpose aircrafts as well, for manufacturing structural parts of airplanes. Airframe structures made from composite material provide many lucrative benefits in terms of fuel consumption and airlift range.
In consequence, many new investors are now planning to penetrate aerospace composites industry. Research institutes have also been collaborating with aircraft manufacturers to deploy newly developed composites in the production of structural components. The ongoing efforts of the aerospace industry to improve the performance and structural strength of military and commercial aircrafts are likely to boost aerospace composites market outlook over the years ahead.
Currently, most of the aircraft manufacturers prefer aramid, carbon, and glass fiber based composite materials because of their superior strength as well as stiffness-to-density ratios. In addition, the main reason behind the increasing popularity of composite materials among OEMs is the use of low-density materials. Aircraft manufacturers use these composites to produce lightweight structures that not only help to reduce fuel consumption but also minimize emissions.
Considering the huge requirement of composite materials, many giants in aerospace composites industry are improving their product portfolios, aided by research and development activities. For instance, one of the renowned producers of carbon fiber composites, SGL Group has commenced the production of advanced carbon fibers with a high Young’s modulus. As this newly developed material fulfills the mechanical requirement demanded in component production, it is being used for sheet molding components, pressure vessels, and drive shafts. The shifting trends toward adoption of new manufacturing processes to expand the application landscape is thus likely to augment aerospace composites industry share.
As of now, many carbon fiber suppliers have marked their entry in aerospace composites market, making the competitive scenario of this business highly fierce. Initially, the business space included very few suppliers such as Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd., Toho Tenax Inc., and Toray Industries Inc. With the massive expansion of the aerospace domain though, the demand for materials has rapidly increased, leading to a rise in the number of suppliers. Numerous OEMs have been signing long-term agreements with well-known suppliers in aerospace composites industry for ensuring a continuous flow of raw materials.
Highly professional manufacturers in fact, primarily prefer composite materials characterized by long lasting production and design cycles. Boeing and Airbus for instance, fall among the leading users of carbon composite fibers for aircraft manufacturing. Having deployed these materials for structural components, Boeing and Airbus are known to have successfully complied with regulatory norms related to emission control. The notable advantages that all OEMs gain from the use of composite materials are the requirement for fewer parts, minimum assembly and tooling cost, reduced maintenance, and longer design life. Pertaining to the same, the popularity of composite materials for aerospace applications has increased tremendously since the last decade. According to the Airbus in fact, the extensive usage of carbon fiber in aircraft structures is poised to lower fatigue and corrosion-related maintenance by 60%. Thus, analyzing the cost-effectiveness associated with carbon fiber, many OEMs have been increasingly preferring CFRP materials, fueling aerospace composites market trends.
The growing number of material suppliers in aerospace composites market has inevitably pressurized companies with regards to material pricing. In order to consolidate their position, companies in aerospace composites industry have been adding value to their products via innovation and extending their regional space through capacity expansion projects.
The development of ceramic-matrix and metal-matrix composites is one of the remarkable examples demonstrating the adoption of product innovation strategies by the key players in aerospace composites industry. Citing yet another instance, the subsidiary of the Japan-based chemical manufacturer Kaneka Corporation, Kaneka Aerospace, has recently acquired the composite material unit of Henkel Corporation for strengthening its market position and business growth. With this acquisition, Kaneka Aerospace has added patents like benzoxazine-based high performance composites and advanced technologies to its portfolio. Indeed, through the strategy of adding competitive technologies and products to their existing portfolios, major giants in aerospace composites market are looking forward to strengthening their position in this business.