The global aerospace plastics market size was 57.1 kilo tons in 2014. The growth of the aviation sector, especially in the middle east, is expected to drive growth. Increased air traffic in commercial and defense segments have been responsible for aerospace market growth in North America. Government legislations coupled with strong financial support are expected to drive this market in Asia Pacific.
Stringent regulations for petro-based products are projected to limit the availability of raw materials such as high-grade plastics. Also, growing use of carbon fibers in other applications is likely to restrict further raw material availability in the near future. High capital intensive nature of market limits the market players to survive economically in the market.
Significant developments in deriving bio-based composites reduced dependency on thermoplastics and expected to tap new markets in next seven years. Aircraft manufacturers have started to use metal and thermoplastic composites combination in aircraft bodies to ensure passenger comfort and decrease fuel emission.
North America aerospace plastics market, by end-use, 2012 - 2022 (Tons)
A wide range of polymers is used as aerospace grade plastics. Moreover, different types are used in numerous applications. For instance, PEKK is employed in empennages. However, the same polymer is not utilized in wings & rotor blades.
PEKK market revenue in empennage was valued at USD 74.6 million in 2014. High glass transition temperature as compared to other engineering polymers and epoxy resin along with the ability to withstand high mechanical loads is expected to increase the importance of PEEK over other polymers over the next few years.
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) materials market revenue in flight decks & cockpit was USD 168.7 million in 2014. This material possesses properties including long-term mechanical performance along with resistance to chemicals, cracking, weather, and temperature. France-based Arkema supply Altuglas PMMA sheet for use in cockpits of commercial and recreational aircraft. PMMA also finds application in windows of flight decks and cockpits on account of being a lightweight material.
Global aerospace plastics demand in wings & rotor blades exceeded 7,900.0 tons in 2014. The use of plastics in wings makes them almost immune to metal fatigue. Manufacturers including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. have been focusing on manufacturing a composite wing box constituting plastic as a primary ingredient to reduce the overall weight of aircraft and thus, achieve fuel efficiency.
Demand in cabin areas is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.2%, in terms of volume, from 2015 to 2022. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), polycarbonate, and decorative vinyl are materials that are mostly used for these purposes. Infrastructural development in Brazil and South Africa are expected to augment polymer demand in cabin areas for aircraft over the forecast period.
Demand for military aircraft is anticipated to reach 5,648.4 tons by 2022. Manufacturers have been increasingly using plastics in the integrated circuits of military aircraft since plastic integrated circuits can operate even in high temperatures. Government funding, across the globe, is expected to augment the use of military aircraft, resulting in increased demand for these polymers over the forecast period.
General aviation accounted for 12.9% of the global aerospace plastics industry in 2014. Small business jets and planes, intended for commercial use, represent a potential growth opportunity in the aerospace industry. Advancement of new plastic composites and introduction of new designs maximizing the structural benefits have led to an increase in design flexibility and volume of plastics.
North America accounted for 36.0% of the global volume share in 2014. Highly prevalent MRO activities mainly for regional aircraft are expected to drive market growth. The U.S. was traditionally viewed as one of the prominent centers of the global commercial aircraft market. The North American airline industry witnessed a growth of 2% in the past three years in terms of traffic and capacity. Higher purchase plans were found in the major U.S. centers, which impacted the aerospace plastics demand profoundly.
Asia Pacific aerospace plastics market is likely to witness significant gains over the forecast period. An increasing number of suppliers including Tata Advanced Materials Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited coupled with supportive government schemes is expected to bolster growth. The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.0%, in terms of revenue, over the forecast period.
Key players include Toray, Toho Tenax, Mitsubishi Rayon, Hexcel, Cytec, Hyosung Corporation, Kaman Aerospace Corporation and SABIC. In April 2014, Hexcel Corporation in collaboration with Zodiac Aerospace introduced L3 passenger seats for aircraft.
In January 2016, Toho Tenax announced renewal of its Pyromex supply contract to UTC Aerospace Systems to strengthen its business. In January 2016, Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., developed technologies for plasma surface treatment and microwave carbonization, which uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) to reduce consumption of energy and CO2 during the production of automobiles, railcars, and aircraft.
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