Lightweight materials have become an integral part of product design as they are considered to possess the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and improve resource efficiency in application industries. The new lightweight metals and non-metals are emerging as materials for application in vehicle and aircraft manufacturing. Recently, Boeing constructed the 787 Dreamliner using carbon reinforced plastic for the external body. However, the major challenge faced by end-user industries is the high cost of these materials.
The products that are touted to be the future of lightweight materials market are titanium, high strength steel, aluminum, polymers & composites, and magnesium. The penetration of high strength steel in an automobile is increasing day by day, and it is projected that over two third of the cars produced would be made from high strength steel. The properties of lightweight aluminum such as strength, resistance to corrosion and formability are improving its application in aviation and energy applications. Polymers and composites are emerging as important materials as they not only possess strength but also offer design advantage.
The aviation industry was the pioneer for application of lightweight materials in aircraft design and the benefits offered by these materials caught the attention of automobile manufacturers as well. The newly found application in the energy sector is expected to grow rapidly on account of increased demand for alternate energy sources. These products are used in rotor blade components that form a part of wind energy equipment. The growing trend of renewable energy sources is expected to boost the demand for lightweight materials.
Research and development form an integral part of the lightweight materials market. Titanium after its introduction was a subject of a large number of research experiments as it provided exceptional strength. However, the properties possessed by titanium are now being found useful in defense and other security applications.
The industry participants in this market have already established themselves as materials manufacturers. Companies like SABIC and Cytec Solvay Group have made their existence felt in the composites market through new product development and material innovation. Major aluminum manufacturers such as Alcoa Inc. and Aleris International have also structured their product portfolio to accommodate these lightweight materials. The major trend observed in this market is the surge in acquisition activity. The market potential of these materials has attracted the attention of major investing firms. In January 2016, Berkshire Hathway acquired Precision Castparts Corp in an all-cash transaction. In August 2016, Zhongwang USA LLC reached a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Aleris International.
In-depth report on global lightweight materials market by Grand View Research: