The annual cost of metallic corrosion worldwide is staggering. Considering the cost of maintenance, prevention, replacement of parts and interruption of services due to maintenance, it could reach $2.2 trillion (USD) in 2012, says the World Corrosion Organization (New York, N.Y.). The U.S. Department of Defense has estimated the annual cost of corrosion in military applications alone at more than $10 billion per year. Corrosion-resistant composites are ideally suited to replace metal structures, including tanks, piping, cooling towers, railcars for chemical transport and more, in this huge market sector. Therefore composites industry has experienced over the past three decades long-term growth based on global economic development and higher penetration into key markets (building & construction, wind energy, aerospace, automotive...) to reach a worldwide market of 68 Billion € and 7.9 MM tons. Between 2002 and 2010, the composites market — i.e. the final parts processed grew at 4% to 5% per year in value (3% in volume).

In developed countries (US and Western Europe mostly), penetration rates into key application industries have progressively reached their maximum levels during this period — except in aerospace — resulting in a lower growth rate in developed countries (4% per year in value between 2002 and 2007), compared to emerging countries (8% per year in value between 2002 and 2007), following the underlying markets development.

The recent crisis impacted the composites industry. Between 2007 and 2009, the worldwide market in volume came down from 8.1Mt in 2007 to 7.6Mt in 2009 (i.e. -3% decrease per year over the period). The decrease in the overall market is however to be differentiated:  

  • North America, with a -8% per year decrease, representing 38% of the overall market in 2007 dropped to 34% in 2009; 
  • Europe, with a -7% per year decrease, representing 23% of the overall market in 2007 maintained a 22% share in 2009; 
  • Asia, with a 4% per year increase, representing 32% of the overall market in 2007 increased to 37% in 2009;
  • Rest of the world, with a 3% increase per year representing 6% of the overall market in 2007 maintained a 7% share in 2009.

The impact of the crisis was also highly differentiated by application industry. Transportation, aerospace and construction suffered between 2007 and 2009, whereas the wind energy market experienced strong growth of around 30% per year during the same period, sustained by public policies in favor of renewable energy sources. The composites market has started its recovery in 2010 with a growth of +5% in volume compared to 2009 and with every region showing positive growth. Following this recovery, the composites industry is expected to grow on average at 6% per year in value for the next 5 years (5% per year in volume) from 68 Billion € (7,9 Mt) in 2010 to 90 Billion € (10,0 Mt) in 2015. The shift from North America and Europe (55% of the worldwide volumes in 2010 and 50% in 2015) to Asia (38% of the worldwide volumes in 2010, 43% in 2015) will continue.