ENGINEERING AND PERFORMANCE
PLASTICS, 2005-2015, RAPRA, VIENNA 2005
Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006
CF, and high composites
The history of production capacity in CF is one of many closures,
mergers, acquisitions over the last ten years. Many companies have
changed hands more than three or four times. The CF industry is champion
of all changes.
Carbon fibers are one of the high specialties in which Japan is
the leading producer. The largest two producers in the world are
Toray and Toho Rayon. Together with Mitsubishi Rayon and SGL, the
latter two with a cooperation agreement, these four companies account
for over 80 % of the total world CF capacity and output.
Table 8. Main producers of carbon fibers,
|Toho Tenax, incl Fortafil
A first promising growth was stopped in the early 1990s, when the
recession greatly reduced spending on army and aerospace that were
then the main outlets for high performance composites. Now the markets
are much more diversified and the carbon fibers are growing again.
Of course, this is yet far from the very high forecasts that were
given around 1989, according to which the carbon fiber composites
were to become commodities soon. Back in 1985, going forecasts were
for 50 000 tons in 1990, and over 100 000 tons, if not a multiple,
More uses for carbon fibers are developed. Now, because of lower
prices, carbon fibers can substitute for steel in the reinforced
concrete of building and bridges, a large and promising outlet. Also,
rotor blades for wind power generation are seen as an important market.
The long term future of plastics and composites is that of major inroads
into structural applications, with metal replacement, offering equivalent
mechanical properties with lighter weight and no corrosion.
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