Carbon fiber is a fiber that contains at least 92% carbon by weight. Carbon fiber is very light and flexible, yet very tough, boosting performances. It is relatively new and refined material that has found many uses in the field of automobiles, aviation, sports, construction and even medical devices. Carbon fiber composites are usually preferred in applications where strength, low weight, stiffness and outstanding fatigue characteristics are necessary requirements. They also can be used in operations where chemical inertness, high temperature, and high damping are demanded. Several thousand carbon fibers are bundled together to form a tow, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric. The thickness varies according to use giving the object strength and flexibility suitable for its purpose. They are usually combined with other materials to form a composite. Various types of carbon fibers are manufactured across the globe. These include polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based, rayon-based, pitch-based and others. Pitch-based and PAN-based carbon fibers are the major product segments of the global carbon fiber market.
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Demand for carbon fiber is growing at a rapid pace from end-user industries such as aerospace and defense, wind energy and sporting goods is expected to drive the global carbon fiber market in the next few years. However, recycling issues of carbon fiber coupled along with higher price may curb the growth of the carbon fiber market during the forecast period. Rising demand for durable and lightweight carbon fiber components in the end-user industries such as construction and automotive industries is projected to act as a worthwhile opportunity for the carbon fiber market during the forecast period.
Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based product type accounted for a major share of carbon fiber market globally. PAN based carbon fiber hold more than 80% share of the global carbon fiber market. PAN based carbon fiber is followed by pitch-based carbon fiber. While others segment which includes rayon based, polyolefin-based carbon fiber is expected to be fastest growing segment during the forecast period. Wind energy was the largest end-user segment and accounted for more 20% share in 2015. While automotive is expected to be the fastest growing end-user segment followed by sporting goods during the forecast period.
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In terms of geography, North America was the largest consumer of carbon fiber in 2015. The consumption in North America is mainly driven by usage of carbon fiber in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. uses almost 60% of the world production of carbon fiber. The Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow at a swift pace mainly due to rising demand for carbon fiber and their composites from emerging countries in Asia such as India, Japan, and China. Japan is one of the major manufacturers of carbon fiber globally. Japan accounts for almost 50% of the world production capacity. The largest producer of this fiber is Toray Industries of Japan.
The world production capacity of pitch-based carbon fiber is almost totally based in Japan. Europe is second largest consumer of carbon fiber globally. Increasing demand from end-user industries such as aerospace and defense, wind energy, and automotive is expected to drive the carbon fiber market in Europe in the future. While, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa are expected to register noticeable growth during the forecast period.
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Some of the key players of the market include Toray Industries, Cytec Industries, Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd., SGL Group – The Carbon Company, Hexcel Corporation, Kemrock Industries and Exports Ltd., Formosa Plastics Corporation, DowAksa, Teijin Ltd, Zoltek Companies, Inc., Kureha Corporation, and others.
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