COVID-19 update included
The content of this report will be updated with the latest scenarios based on the global COVID-19 Pandemic

The market for carbon fiber is expected to register a CAGR of around 4% during the forecast period. The major factors driving the growth of the market studied are accelerating usage in the aerospace and defense sector, and the increasing application in the wind energy sector.

  • On the flipside, high prices of carbon fiber has been acting as a roadblock to the growth of the market studied.
  • Emphasis on usage of lignin as raw material for carbon fiber is likely to act as an opportunity for the market studied over the forecast period.
  • In terms of volume, Asia-Pacific dominated the market across the globe, with China accounting for most of the demand.

Key Market Trends

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) to Dominate the Market

  • Polyacrylonitrile is the most versatile precursor for carbon fiber. Also known as Creslan 61, it is a synthetic semi-crystalline polymer resin. Almost 90% of carbon fiber is produced using PAN.
  • During the production of carbon fibers, initially the PAN precursor material is spun into a fiber form. It is then stretched and subjected to an oxidizing atmosphere and temperatures of about 200 ? 240 ?C for approximately 24 hours. The stabilized fibers are then heated in an inert atmosphere up to 1500 ?C. Then the fibers are heated to 3000 ?C in an inert environment, leading to graphitization.
  • PAN is a thermoplastic resin having an uncharacteristically high melting point. PAN-based carbon fibers have relatively higher coat than pitch-based fibers and have good mechanical properties (high tensile strength). They are preferred in major applications, owing to high carbon yield, the potential of polymer to undergo cyclization reactions, and the lowest fraction of voids, which result in higher strength and stability, along with the flexibility to tailor the structure of the final product.
  • PAN is used as a precursor for the production of carbon fiber for aerospace and defense applications and the sporting equipment industry. With the aerospace and defense and sporting equipment industries registering high growth, owing to the increasing adoption of sports and recreational activities and increasing health awareness, which is expected to drive the market for PAN as a raw material in carbon fiber through the forecast period in post COVID-19 recovery times.
  • ?Toray CFE, Merck KGaA, Hexcel Corporation, SABIC, and Teijin Limited are some of the major manufacturers of PAN.

China to Dominate the Asia-Pacific Market

  • The IMF projects a growth rate of 1.2%, for China, in 2020 and the country is expected to witness a growth rate of 9.2% in 2021 subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
  • China is the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world. The country’s automotive sector has been shaping up for product evolution, with the country focusing on manufacturing products, to ensure fuel economy and minimize emissions, owing to the increasing environmental concerns, due to mounting pollution in the country. However, the market witnessed a shrink from 2018 and 2019, as the production decreased by 4.2% and 7.5% in those years, respectively. The trade war between China and the United States is the major reason for the drop in sales, along with the low domestic demand.
  • But the COVID-19 outbreak created a huge uncertainty in the market which is posing a negative trend for both the automotive market and the demand for carbon fiber in automotive applications.
  • Moreover, the aircraft parts and assembly manufacturing sector in the country is growing at a rapid pace, with the presence of over 200 small aircraft parts manufacturers. Major manufacturers are concentrated in Nanchang, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an, Harbin, Shijiazhuang, and Shenyang. The Chinese aerospace policy represents one of the most comprehensive attempts to enter the top levels of aerospace development and production. China is expected to be the world’s largest single?country market for civil aircraft sales, over the next 20 years. Under the plan, ’Made in China 2025’, China is expected to supply over 10% home-made commercial aircraft to the domestic market by 2025.
  • China is the world leader in new onshore and offshore wind power installations. The country ordered 50 GW of wind turbines in 2019, for both onshore and offshore projects, 39 GW more than in 2018. This demand in China is primarily driven by the expiration of the feed-in-tariff (FIT) but was also enabled by new transmission capacity and the easing of red warnings in Northern provinces.
  • All the aforementioned factors are expected to increase the demand for the carbon fiber market over the forecast period after recovery of COVID-19 outbreak.

Competitive Landscape

The carbon fiber market is a consolidated market, where the top eight players accounting for more than 83% of the total global production capacity. The major companies in the carbon fiber market include TORAY INDUSTRIES INC., SGL Carbon SE, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, TEIJIN LIMITED, and Hexcel Corporation, among others.

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