Pardos Marketing : Industrial market research consultancy specializing in plastics and applications
Home Navigation Presentation Navigation Studies Navigation Papers



Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006


Carbon fibers, 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, and capacity, in tons

Toray 9 100
Toho Tenax, incl Fortafil 9 800
Mitsubishi Rayon 6 000
SGL Carbon 6 000
Hexcel 2 000
Cytec, ex-BP 1 300
Zoltek 2 500
Formosa Plastics 1 000
Taekwang 300


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, by 2000.

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.


back to the top of the page