Thermoplastic Prepreg Market size is set to experience notable gains over the analysis period 2021-2027. This demand is influenced by the increasing penetration of the products in automotive and aerospace applications. Ongoing efforts by automakers and aircraft manufacturers to reduce weight and boost fuel performance is augmenting the product adoption worldwide. Prepreg composites from thermoplastic materials are the ideal choice for aircraft and vehicle parts which require high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Advancements in material science, technology, and processes will continue to fuel new developments in the thermoplastic prepreg industry. Numerous manufacturers are keenly working with automotive and aerospace OEMs to develop new applications using these products. Companies are also testing different reinforcement materials such as carbon fiber, aramid fiber, and fiberglass to achieve high strength and stiffness while keeping the weight on the lower side.
Advantages over thermoset prepreg materials such as superior impact resistance, high temperature resistance, and robust chemical resistance will supplement the thermoplastic prepreg market growth between 2021 and 2027. These advanced, high-performance composite materials are fully consolidated and fully impregnated one-layer sheets made of different reinforcement materials. They are available in a wide selection of materials tailored to the specific application.
Considering the type of composite reinforcement, the fiberglass segment of thermoplastic prepreg industry is projected to witness significant demand in the coming years. Fiberglass-reinforced prepregs are preferred owing to the ease of processing and handling. They commonly find application in aircraft interiors, sandwich panels, and secondary aircraft structures. Increasing application in structural applications across the automotive sector will drive the product demand.
In terms of the resin type, the polyamide (PA) prepreg market will undergo notable expansion by the end of 2027. PA prepregs are witnessing demand owing to their high thermal stability and easy processability. Additionally, they exhibit one of the highest glass transition temperatures among commercially available structural matrices. Their robust toughness, low toxicity, and excellent dielectric properties make them suitable for application in aerospace and automotive sectors.
Asia Pacific thermoplastic prepreg industry is slated to witness commendable growth over the next few years. The regional expansion is driven by the fast-developing automotive sector. Asia Pacific is one of the leading automotive manufacturers in the world. To meet the increasing vehicle demand, especially across the passenger vehicle segment, automakers are ramping up production capacity. In July 2020, for instance, Hyundai announced plans to invest more than USD 87 billion over the period of five years to expand the development of electric vehicles and autonomous cars. These factors along with the rising volume of air passengers in the region will strengthen the regional market outlook.
Toray Industries Inc., Teijin Limited, SABIC, Hexcel Corporation, Web Industries, Inc., C. Cramer & Co. (CCC), and Maru Hachi Corporation are some of the notable thermoplastic prepreg companies worldwide. The thermoplastic prepreg market is witnessing continuous R&D efforts and product innovation by manufacturers as they focus on bringing improved solutions to the market. Some of the recent market developments are highlighted below.
June 2021: Teijin Ltd. had announced that its Tenax carbon fiber-reinforced prepreg will be implemented in the nacelle, which is a streamlined housing for aircraft components, by Airbus for its next-generation aircraft engine demonstrator, the UltraFan.
July 2021: Toray Composite Materials America Inc. had unveiled a new flexible, adaptive thermoplastic prepreg system for aerospace applications. The new epoxy-based high-performance material complies with the strict aerospace structural design standards.
COVID-19 impact on thermoplastic prepreg industry trends
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting disruptions such as the global economic slowdown, supply chain uncertainty, movement restrictions, and workforce shortages had created numerous challenges for the automotive and aerospace OEMs. Major carmakers and aircraft manufacturers had temporarily suspended production in the initial phase of the pandemic due to strict containment measures and supply shortages.
For instance, in March 2020, the U.S. Alliance for Automotive Innovation reported that over 93% of auto production in the country has come to a halt due to the COVID-19 scare. This included auto giants such as GM, Ford, and FCA along with foreign automakers with operations in the U.S. such as Volkswagen, Toyota, and Honda. Meanwhile in April, aerospace companies like Airbus and Boeing had suspended aircraft production across the U.S.
The aforementioned factors have had slight impact on the thermoplastic prepreg market forecast. However, the recovery of automotive and aerospace sectors will create a promising growth outlook for thermoplastic composite manufacturers during the forecast period 2021-2027.