Fiber thermoplastics are composite materials that consist of high performance fibers such as glass fiber and carbon fiber. These fibers are further impregnated in a matrix of thermoplastics such as polycarbonates through melt and compression molding processes. Fiber thermoplastics possess good electrical conductivity, high strength, low moisture absorption, and low coefficient of thermal expansion. They offer high impact strength and chemical stability. Furthermore, fiber thermoplastics are recyclable, and are regarded as lightweight materials. They are environmentally acceptable, as solvents are not used in their production. They also do not emit volatile organic compounds. Fiber thermoplastics are generally 40% and 20% lighter than steel and aluminum, respectively. They are widely used in aerospace & defense, consumer goods, automobile, and electrical & electronics industries.
Based on product type, the fiber thermoplastics market has been segmented into long fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT), short fiber reinforced thermoplastics (SFRT), continuous fiber thermoplastics (CFT), and glass mat thermoplastics (GMT). Demand for SFRT is expected to rise at a significant pace, as it offers better mechanical properties in terms of strength, elastic stiffness, and creep and fatigue endurance. Based on fiber type, the market has been bifurcated into glass fiber and carbon fiber. Currently, the fiber thermoplastics market is dominated by carbon fiber; however, carbon fiber is expensive and delicate in handling. Thus, glass fiber is anticipated to surpass carbon fiber in the next few years. Glass fiber possesses high strength; flexibility; durability; stability; light weight; and resistance to heat, temperature, and moisture. These factors are driving the market for fiber thermoplastics. Based on resin type, the market has been divided into polypropylene (PP), polyamide (PA), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polyetherimide (PEI), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), and polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Demand for PA, PEI, and PEEK is estimated to increase at a moderate pace during the forecast period due to the expansion in end-use industries.
Growth in end-user industries such as aerospace & defense and automobiles is projected to boost the demand for fiber thermoplastics during the forecast period. Increase in usage of carbon fiber and glass fiber in commercial aircraft such as Airbus A320, Airbus A350 XWB, and the Gulfstream Aerospace G650 due to their characteristics such as better surface quality, high rigidity, and less product rejection at extreme temperatures have made fiber thermoplastics more attractive than metals. Furthermore, rise in demand for light weight materials to achieve high fuel efficiency in automotive production is likely to propel the demand for fiber thermoplastics during the forecast period. Fluctuation in prices of raw materials may hamper market growth. However, enhancement in product performance through innovation is expected to provide lucrative opportunities for market players.
Geographically, the fiber thermoplastics market has been segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Currently, North America is the leading region of the fiber thermoplastics market, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. The U.S. and Canada are the key consumers of fiber thermoplastics, led by the increase in demand for these thermoplastics in automotive and aerospace industries. Technological advancement and new product launches are estimated to boost the demand for fiber thermoplastics in the U.S during the forecast period. Rise in workforce and development of industrial infrastructure in Asia Pacific has led to the steady growth of industries such as automotive, electrical & electronics, aerospace, and consumer goods. Japan, one of the pioneers in electronics, is another market in Asia that is witnessing steady growth in fiber thermoplastics. Europe is projected to follow suit owing to the presence of well-established automotive markets in Germany and Italy. Furthermore, some of the prominent players in the aerospace industry operate in Europe. This is projected to augment the fiber thermoplastics market in the region in the near future.
Key players operating in the fiber thermoplastics market include Cytec Industries, Owens Corning, Toray Industries, Momentive Performance Materials Inc., SGL Group, AGY Holdings Corporation, and Huntsman Corporation.