Last edited 15 Jan 2018

Carbon fibre market

Carbon fibre is a fibre that contains at least 92% carbon by weight. Carbon fibre is very light and flexible, yet very tough. It is relatively new and refined material that has found many uses in the field of automobiles, aviation, sports, construction and even medical devices. Several thousand carbon fibres are bundled together to form a tow, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric. The thickness varies according to use giving the object strength and flexibility suitable for its purpose.

They are usually combined with other materials to form a composite. Various types of carbon fibres are manufactured across the globe. These include polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based, rayon-based, pitch-based and others. Pitch-based and PAN-based carbon fibres are the major product segments of the global carbon fibre market.

Carbon fibre composites are usually preferred in applications where strength, low weight, stiffness and outstanding fatigue characteristics are necessary. They can also be used in operations where chemical inertness, high temperature, and high damping are required.

The global carbon fibre market accounted for around 35-kilotons while market revenue accounted for approximately USD 1.9 billion in 2015. This is expected to reach approximately USD 3.3 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of around 9.8% between 2016 and 2021.

Demand for carbon fibre is growing at a rapid pace from end-user industries such as aerospace and defence, wind energy and sporting goods. However, recycling issues of coupled with higher price may curb the growth of the market. Rising demand for durable and lightweight carbon fibre components in the end-user industries such as construction and automotive industries is projected to be an opportunity for the carbon fibre market to grow.

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based products account for more than 80% of the global carbon fibre market. PAN-based carbon fibre is followed by pitch-based carbon fibre. While other segments which include rayon based and polyolefin-based carbon fibre is expected to be the fastest growing segment. Wind energy was the largest end-user segment and accounted for more 20% share in 2015. While automotive is expected to be the fastest growing end-user segment followed by sporting goods.

In terms of geography, North America was the largest consumer of carbon fibre in 2015. Currently, the U.S. uses almost 60% of the world production of carbon fibre.

The Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow at a swift pace mainly due to rising demand for carbon fibre and their composites from emerging countries in Asia such as India, Japan, and China. Japan is one of the major manufacturers of carbon fibre globally. Japan accounts for almost 50% of the world production capacity. The largest producer of this fibre is Toray Industries of Japan.

The world production capacity of pitch-based carbon fibre is almost totally based in Japan. Europe is second largest consumer of carbon fibre globally. Increasing demand from end-user industries such as aerospace and defence, wind energy, and automotive is expected to drive the carbon fibre market in Europe in the future. While, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa are expected to register noticeable growth during the forecast period.

Some of the key players of the market include Toray Industries, Cytec Industries, Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd., SGL Group – The Carbon Company, Hexcel Corporation, Kemrock Industries and Exports Ltd., Formosa Plastics Corporation, DowAksa, Teijin Ltd, Zoltek Companies, Inc., Kureha Corporation, and others.

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