Canadian Plastics

JEC Group highlights five transformative composites trends

The JEC Group, the world’s largest composites industry organization, has identified five new trends it says will change the composites market in Europe by 2030.

March 10, 2013   Canadian Plastics

The JEC Group, the world’s largest composites industry organization, has identified five new trends it says will change the composites market in Europe by 2030.

The five are converting processes towards mass production, developing properties of thermoplastics, turning materials into so-called “smart” composites, conquering new application sectors, and using greener materials and recycling.

1. Converting processes towards mass production

As JEC Group president and CEO Frédérique Mutel explained, the composites sector has developed its ability to convert processes in recent years, including for large and complex-geometry parts. “Large companies have invested heavily in these new technologies, which lower the cost of composite parts – for example, thermal curing technology enables mass production in the aerospace and the automotive sectors. Innovation is mainly directed towards manufacturing, and in particular, mass production notably in Europe. For example, of all the patents granted for composites in Europe in 2011-2012, 52 per cent involved robotics and automated manufacturing processes.”

2. Developing properties of thermoplastics

“New resins, fibers and additive have been developed in order to improve mechanical, thermal or conductivity properties,” Mutel said. “This will have a huge impact on the automotive sector, thanks in particular to revolutionizing thermoplastics resins.”  

 3. Turning materials into “smart” composites

“Another revolution for the sector: smart composites with sensors which enable companies to foresee the ageing process of the parts they create,” Mutel explained. “They also enable the structures to repair themselves.”

4. Conquering new application sectors

“New sectors have started to turn to composites for innovative technical advancements, such as the energy sector; and cell phones, tablets, and other electronics and consumer goods,” she said.

5. Using greener materials and recycling

“Nowadays, finding a way to recycle has become one of the industry’s biggest priorities,” she said. “Recyclates are now used to produce new composites and are at use in other industries such as cement work.”

It’s all part of what JEC calls the composites market boom, as the industry has shown an average of six per cent growth or more per year since 2010. “With a growing demand for better environmental impact reduction and costs savings, composites are used more and more often to lighten structures, aircraft, and vehicles in general, thus improving energy efficiency,” Mutel said. “The composites industry is growing in volume in correlation with the increase of gross domestic product by country, and penetration continues in some sectors like aeronautics. We expect the composites market for aerospace to be four times bigger than today by 2030, for example.”

Other new applications in such high-volume markets as electricity, electronics, and consumer good are forecast to boom, she added, especially in Asia. “We expect the European composites market to grow from 9.2 million metric tons today to 12 million metric tons by 2017,” she said.


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