Carbon fibres are polyvalent in new applications
Carbon fibres become more and more of polyvalent use in different industries and lately made a great inroad in the civil airplane and automotive industry and their deployment has not yet reached its maturity
Carbon fibres offer various advantages, they are thinner than a human hair but still very resistant, enduring, light, rigid thus having similar qualities like steel, aluminium and wood, however many developments in industrial segments were hampered by their high pricing, because there are not inexpensive fibres. Now there is a somewhat brighter future ahead because American built Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well as its European competitor Airbus A 350 are making use of this technology and have constructed the bodies of their respective airplanes from this material. Thanks to a reduction of weight those airplanes will have a greater fuel economy in the order of 20% and the technology allows to save production costs as no longer thousands of aluminium sheets need to be fastened and it saves additionally lifetime costs of such airplanes. This is an interesting fact that these aspects are of consideration in the airline industry whereas the textile machinery claims that foremost Asian customers do not consider the same thinking when evaluating sustainable textile machinery and their saving of costs during a life cycle.
According Acmite Market Intelligence the value of carbon fibre applied in different segments of industries will grow from 2009 USD 10.8 billion to 2012 USD 13.2 billion and by 2015 to USD 18.6 billion and the volume will reach by 2020 an estimate 150000 t or four times of the actual volume and industrial applications will assume 70 % of the volume whereas today it is only 40 % and 30 % are absorbed in the airplane industry. The favourite suppliers are Japanese Toray Industries and American Hexcel, the latter supplies carbon composites for Airbus up to 2025 and Toray is the exclusive supplier to Boeing. Carbon fibres match closely the natural spider silk, woven in ropes and applied in composites with other plastics they offer all the above qualities and the advantage that they are practically resistant to ecological effects and they don’t change their dimension when subjected to heat. The manufacturing of carbon fibres has been refined over the years but there is a lot of know how to be applied and therefore these fibres remain dear. Carbon fibres are applied in the construction of mountain bike frames to formula one racing cars bodies. The construction of military airplanes is already making use of such composites for a long time. However the question remains if the availability of these high-tech carbon fibres in extensive volumes is assured, because the extension of existing and new plants is equally costly. As we stated the future applications will be expanded to many industries not yet known and therefore a tremendous potential is not yet explored but the key question will be at what price these other industries are capable to make use of carbon fibres not endangering their margins.