Over the past couple of decades, technical advancements in plastics have revolutionized the aerospace industry. Aerospace plastics have become more ubiquitous in aerospace industry owing to its beneficial properties. They play a crucial role in reducing the weight of an aircraft, thereby making it lighter, safer, and more economical. The consumption of aerospace plastics such as CFRP (Carbon fiber reinforced plastic), GRP (Glass reinforced plastic), ARP (Aramid reinforced plastic) is expected to grow due to the growing aviation industry coupled with the unique characteristics it possesses.
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Continuous growth in the aviation industry, admirable strength to weight ratio, and growing adoption of aerospace plastics in aerospace industry are some of the factors driving the aerospace plastics market. The aerospace plastics market is constrained by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Greenpeace regulations that are imposed upon the production of aerospace plastics. Furthermore, the high cost of the raw materials act as a major barrier to the market. Substantial rise in the military budget chiefly in North America have provided enough growth impetus for the market.
Commercial and freighter end-user segment is one of the major contributors to the aerospace plastics market which is followed by military and rotary aircraft segments. The rise in air traffic owing to rise in disposable income is expected to fuel the airline industry which in turn is expected to enhance market growth of aerospace plastics in the next five years.
Currently aerospace plastics are widely preferred over the conventional materials like aluminum due to its excellent strength to weight ratio. The fuselage, wings and empennage are some of the segments wherein aerospace plastics are utilized extensively. CFRP, GRP and ARP find growing applications particularly in fuselage, empennage and wing components of aircrafts. In 2011, the airframe and fuselage application segment is estimated to constitute majority of the market share. While the cabin area application segment is estimated to contribute second largest market share in the aerospace plastic market.
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Europe dominated the market owing to the availability of skilled expertise, training schools and financial support provided by the government. Europe acquired maximum market share which was followed by North America and Asia Pacific. Europe and North America are the prominent centers for aviation industry. They have several production bases of leading aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Eurocopter wherein the consumption of aerospace plastic is increasing with the growth in the aviation industry. Asia Pacific market is expected to grow significantly, chiefly, due to the availability of cheap labor which is also supported by the increasing air traffic. Embraer has a strong presence in the Brazilian aerospace plastic market.
The aerospace plastic market is concentrated in nature with the top five companies accounting for more than 70% of the market share in 2012. Toray held the maximum market share followed by Toho Tenax and Mitsubishi Rayon. Zoltek, Hexcel, SGL Carbon and Cytec are few other major players in this market. Some of the manufacturers namely Hexcel Corporation are actively manufacturing aerospace components from the basic raw materials like CFRP, GRP and ARP. These companies are adapting to forward integration by manufacturing final aerospace components utilizing their own raw materials. This in turn is assisting the manufacturers to capture more market share.
Companies are expanding their presence across different regions to fulfill the augmenting demands of the local aircraft component manufacturers. Toho Tenax has established new administrative office in Singapore with an objective to expand its business in the growing Asia Pacific market. Toray Carbon Fibers has established a new resin compounding base in Indonesia. This resin compounding base was first of its kind by a performance plastic manufacturer in Indonesia. Hexcel announced an extension to its prepregs plant in Spain to double its capacity.
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