"The automotive industry in particular has been generating new momentum with positive spillover on composites manufacturers and suppliers. Thermoplastic materials benefit more than other areas from new applications and current European market dynamics", says AVK Managing Director Dr. Elmar Witten.
This sustained upward trend was also reflected at this year's Composites Europe in Düsseldorf, which set new records thanks to significantly higher numbers of visitors (+ 25%) and exhibitors (+ 7%).
Attending the event at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre from 7 to 9 October were 419 exhibitors (last Düsseldorf event in 2012: 392) from 27 nations and 10,186 visitors (2012: 8,131). Leading composites manufacturers and processors, equipment manufacturers and research institutes showcased their goods and services at the ninth Composites Europe. The focus of the trade fair, lecture programme and concurrent AVK Conference was on optimising processes that enable high-volume composites manufacturing processes.
At the same time, Composites Europe demonstrated how the mechanical engineering sector benefits from the demand for composites. "The prospects for mechanical engineering in the area of composites are very good. At Composites Europe, one can see the critical role mechanical engineering plays in automation and what our industry can contribute", says Dr. Walter Begemann from the VDMA Forum Composite Technology. "The trade fair and its exhibitors provide critical guidance to the sector", adds Begemann.
"Above all, the exchange between industry and science is becoming more and more important", says Michael Köhler, the event director of Composites Europe. The trade fair highlighted a range of original ideas at the new "Industry meets Science" special area. Developed in cooperation with RWTH Aachen’s IKV, the event is designed to present cutting-edge scientific developments. Additionally, the trade fair expanded its portfolio of offerings this year by adding a new special area dedicated to biocomposites and exhibition tours centred on wind energy.
"I'm certain the development at BMW opened the door for the boom in the composites sector", says Erich Fries, the director of KraussMaffei's composites unit, adding that the RTM process proved it’s possible to economically produce fibre-reinforced plastics even in large quantities.
This development will also benefit the CFRP market, whose growth rate will stabilise around 10% over the next few years, according to the latest market report issued by the industry cluster Carbon Composites (CCeV). This outcome is possible thanks to steadily increasing demand from sectors such as aeronautics, wind energy, and sports and leisure. Automotive engineering and construction are two more market segments assumed to harbour considerable growth potential.