Glass fibers are thin strands of silica based or other glass that is extruded into fibers which can be further processed based on applications. The material has superior properties such as high tensile strength, flexibility, light weight, durability, sound absorption, thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity among others. The above mentioned properties make it extremely useful in reinforcement and insulation application. The products properties coupled with low cost make it a vital reinforcement material in the plastics industry.
Most of the globally produced glass fibers are used in the construction and automotive industry. The growing construction activities in emerging economies like India, China and Brazil coupled with the increased use of insulation per unit build area is expected to be a key driver for the growth of the market. In addition, the increased focus on energy conservation in the construction industry, has led to higher emphasis on utilization of glass fibers as they provide superior insulation properties at a nominal cost. They are extensively used in the automotive industry in replacement parts as they lead to lower tooling cost as compared to conventional materials such as metals. In addition, the material is used in a variety of other application industry such as electronics, aerospace, energy and consumer industry. However, the utilization and superior functional properties of substitutes such as carbon fibers could hamper the growth of the market in the near future.
The opportunities for the market lie in the increased application scope of fiber glass. The demand for renewable energy in the form of wind turbines and the demand for light-weight fuel efficient aircraft and cars are key opportunities for the new players in the market. Various large companies are consistently innovating new products which would increase the application scope of glass fibers. Bayer MaterialScience recently developed a new body panel comprising of glass fibers and plastics which is expected to be lighter in weight and rigid as compared to the previously used polyurethane foam.
Asia is the largest producer of fiber glass globally and accounts for over half of global production. The growing application segment in this region is expected to be a key factor for the growing production volume in the region. They key companies involved in the glass fiber market include PPG Industries, Owens Corning, Nippon Sheet Glass, China Fiberglass Company, Knauf and Advanced Glassfiber Yarns among others.
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