Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is a high-strength composite material that is light in weight. This makes it suited for use in several industries including aerospace and defense, wind energy, automobile, sports equipment, marine, civil, and molding. Carbon fiber is also becoming the material of choice for making laptops, tripods, sport racquet frames, and stringent instrument frameworks. Carbon fiber consists of high-strength crystalline filaments of a few microns of carbon atoms.
The carbon fiber reinforced plastic market is growing at a significant pace mainly due to its growing demand in industries such as aerospace and automotive. While aerospace is the largest end-user industry for the carbon fiber reinforced plastics market, automotive is growing at the highest pace. Europe and North America are the key markets for carbon fiber reinforced plastics.
A growing emphasis on fuel-efficient vehicles and aircrafts in response to increasing oil prices is expected to propel demand in the carbon fiber reinforced plastics market. The expanding market for electric and hybrid vehicles also creates an opportunity for the carbon fiber reinforced plastic market. Moreover, government regulations have also been promoting the use of carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced plastic composites. The rising demand for renewable energy such as wind power as well as increased oil and gas exploration activities will further extend the penetration of carbon fiber reinforced plastics.
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Based on type, the carbon fiber reinforced plastics market can be segmented into two categories: Thermosetting and thermoplastic. Based on resin type, thermosetting carbon fiber reinforced plastic can be further segmented into: Epoxy resin, polyester resin and vinyl resin. Thermoplastics carbon fiber reinforced plastic on the other hand, can be segmented into polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyurethane, polypropylene and others. Thermosetting carbon fiber reinforced plastic is the largest product segment and accounts for over 75% of total sales.
The key raw materials for carbon fiber reinforced plastics include polycrylonitrile (PAN) and petroleum pitch; both collectively account for approximately 90% of the total raw materials used in manufacturing. High raw material cost is the key restraint for the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market.
North America dominated global sales in the carbon fiber reinforced plastics market in 2014; however, Europe is witnessing the fastest growth rate among all regions. The major European countries in the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market are Germany, the U.K., France, and Spain. The largest carbon fiber reinforced plastics consumers in Asia Pacific include Japan, China, and Taiwan.
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Most players in the global carbon fiber reinforced plastics market are based in the U.S. and Japan. The key market players include Cytec Industries, Toray Industries, SGL-Group, Hexcel Corporation, Teijin Limited, Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd, Hyosung, Kringlan Composites, and Plasan Carbon Composites.