The wind, aerospace, construction and mass transit industries are using more large lightweight structures, a trend that bodes well for the lightweight composites market if further material and manufacturing advancements can be made, according to analysis by Frost & Sullivan.
The lightweight composites market is expanding thanks to stringent legislation and customer concerns on reducing fuel consumption, according to the report, Innovations in Lightweight Composites. The transportation industry has, in particular, placed an emphasis on weight reduction.
Lightweight construction, energy conservation and flexibility in design and fabrication have spurred demand for high-performance construction materials such as lightweight composites across sectors, according to Frost & Sullivan research analyst Arpita Mukherjee.
The report forecasts opportunities for lightweight composites will emerge in the next five years in construction, wind power, oil and gas, medical and consumer goods as these industries begin replacing heavy weight metals and traditional construction materials with lightweight composites.
However, cost is the biggest challenges that is threatening its expansion into new markets, according to the report. The high cost for raw materials and fabrication in manufacturing composites have made lightweight composites economically feasible in only a few industries.
The market has been further hampered by the lack of an affordable process for the high-volume production of advanced composite parts. Long manufacturing cycle times are also a deterrent.
The US Department of Energy has made available about $50 million to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies that further cut fuel costs for drivers and help make vehicles more efficient and durable, including lightweighting materials, cost-effective batteries and power electronics, advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and improved fuels and lubricants.