Composites market for maritime applications grows to USD 5.04 billion by 2023

24 June 2019


Market for recreational and high speed boats drives composites industry growth


The market for composites in maritime applications reached a total volume of USD 3.83 billion in 2018. It is expected to grow by an average of 5.6 percent annually to USD 5.04 billion by 2023. This is the result of the study "Marine Composites Market - Global Trends and Forecasts to 2023" by the analysts of "Markets and Markets". The growth is driven by the strong demand for light, corrosion-resistant and impact-resistant structures for ships of all kinds.

According to the experts, the booming market for recreational and high-speed boats, in particular, is driving the composites industry forward. Other reasons cited for the high demand for fibre-reinforced composites in boatbuilding are the high flexibility in design and the savings in fuel consumption made possible by lightweight structures, especially for luxury yachts.

Asia-Pacific region boosts demand

Thanks to numerous shipbuilding companies, North America is the largest regional market - mainly for leisure boats. In second place is Europe, where a large number of composites processors specializing in maritime applications are located. However, the highest growth rates are achieved in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Japan, South Korea and China. Cruise ships as well as recreational and sports boats are driving the market development here.

"Markets and Markets" names yachts, catamarans, closed and open sport boats as well as fishing boats as the most important ship types in which composites are used. Yachts in particular are predestined for the use of composite materials - around 90 percent of these ships are made of GRP structures. Typical components include deck components, rudders, hulls, ladders and masts.

GRP characterise shipbuilding

In general, composite materials based on glass fibre are used much more frequently in boatbuilding than CFRP, for example. According to the experts, the reasons are better properties and lower prices. In addition, GRP structures have shaped global shipbuilding since their development. They are used in ship hulls and partly also in superstructures. Large components, complex layer structures, high flexibility and low mechanical effort - in the vast majority of applications continuous fibers are used, which are processed in almost exclusively very small series in largely open, manual processes such as manual lamination.

Open, manual processes dominate

In this processes, dry semi-finished fibre products in the form of fabrics or scrims are manually placed in a mould, impregnated with resin and cured by hand, for example with rollers. In some cases, this consolidation is achieved at standard pressure and room temperature, but often also at elevated temperatures with the aid of heatable moulds. Despite the limited opportunities for growth, experts assume that these manual processes will continue in the composites industry.

Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM): procedure gaining importance

In addition, components for maritime applications are also manufactured using resin transfer moulding (RTM), according to the "Composites Market Report 2018" (published by the Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e.V., Germany) corresponding components can therefore also be produced in larger series, but cycle times can only be shortened to a limited extent compared to other processes. "As in previous years, the segment is growing continuously, but this year at a slightly below-average rate of 1.4 percent to a total volume of 146 kilotons," it says.

The production spectrum of this technology is very broad. In addition to small quantities, larger series can also be produced. Both small components and larger products can be produced. "In addition, a large number of different fiber and matrix systems can be used. Typically, corresponding preforms are also used," the authors write. The areas of application are correspondingly broad, including boat and ship building.


COMPOSITES EUROPE will also focus on composite materials for boat and ship building. Numerous exhibitors will be presenting materials and technical solutions for the marine sector from 10 to 12 September in Stuttgart. In addition, the trade fair will show all manufacturing processes for fibre-reinforced plastics, from raw materials to manufacturing processes.

Visitors to the fair will meet a total of 300 exhibitors from 30 nations who will be demonstrating the state of the art and the potential of fibre-reinforced composites - not only in the exhibition area, but also in the numerous event areas, in lecture forums, theme tours and workshops.

In the field of boat and ship building, these exhibitors will be presenting themselves in 2019. 



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