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Composites

John Davidson to discuss carbon fibre manufacturing at GoCarbonFibre

Building a carbon fibre line is capital intensive, and vertical integration has to be considered in order for the company to succeed.

15th August 2014

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Cologne

Industrial, Construction, Civil Engineering, Transport/​Aerospace

Whilst the carbon fibre composites industry as a whole continues to post growth in double digits, the carbon fibre manufacturing industry is perhaps a little less bullish, according to organisers of the GoCarbonFibre 2014 conference that is set to take place from 8-10 October in Cologne, Germany.

John Davidson, President of Carbon Fibre Technologies, who will also be a chairman on the first day of the conference, will address the audience with a discussion about the carbon fibre manufacturing industry.

“You might think that with carbon fibre composite growth forecasts you might see something similar in carbon fibre manufacturing forecasts, but this side of the business has always been somewhat cautious in rising to meet such heady growth heights,” Smithers Rapra reports.

“Granted, some of the incumbents are rising to the challenge, such as Toray, SGL , MRC and Hexcel, but considering it takes upwards of two years to get a carbon fibre manufacturing line up and running you might imagine you'd see some very bold announcements of capacity increase...not so many, yet.”

Mass market

Building a carbon fibre line is capital intensive, and these days vertical integration has to be considered in order for the company to establish itself well in the industry. This requires investment and commitment.

The cost of oil based PAN precursor adds considerably to operating costs and with the current geo political upheavals there is every reason to expect that the price will increase. There is currently a quest for the holy grail of cheaper precursors such as lignin and polyolefins, but they have their challenges and are perhaps some way off in terms of meeting current PAN based properties and capacity requirements.

SGL/BMW have certainly stolen a march on the automotive world with, what was thought at the time to be, a very bold move into volume carbon fibre composite cars with the i3 and i8. Many other auto manufacturers have given the carbon fibre industry plenty of notice that they are coming but as yet none of the strategic auto/carbon fibre composite collaborations seems to have borne any real fruit for the mass market.

Growth

Both Boeing and Airbus move forward apace with their 787 and A350 programmes and doubtless their respective designers will have their new generation airplanes already on the drawing board.

Wind power seems to be the one part of our industry that really does seem to be growing, even though there is still a lot of opposition to the sitting of turbines and their effect on the landscape.

“Industrial uses are also growing quite well, CNG Tanks, Oil & Gas, Electrical Cables are ones that stand out,” organisers say. “So with all this positive growth in the use of carbon fibre composites, why are we not seeing a similar trend in the manufacturing of the virgin carbon fibre?”

www.gocarbonfibre.com

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