The global prepreg market size is estimated at USD 7.0 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 12.6 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 12.5%. Prepregs are being used in different end use industries such as: aerospace & defense, wind energy, automotive, sporting goods, electronics, and other industries. The increasing demand of wind energy as a renewable energy, drives the demand for prepreg. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, there was a dip in the demand of prepreg. Due to the lockdown scenario in Europe and North America, the demand for prepreg from wind energy, construction, automotive, electronics and other industries was declined sharply in the first half of 2020.
Stringent regulations and rules are imposed on the automotive industry to reduce CO2 emissions, which have adverse effects on the global climatic conditions. This encourages the industry to move toward fuel-efficient vehicles, which can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). Glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) are substitutes for aluminum and steel in the automotive sector. Carbon fiber and glass fiber prepregs are lighter than traditional steel by about 50–70% and 15–20%, respectively. The weight of a car can be reduced by 60% by using these prepreg parts. It is observed that a 10% reduction in vehicle weight increases fuel efficiency by 5%. The use of carbon fiber prepregs can result in 30% fuel efficiency compared to steel. However, Major players are working to reduce the manufacturing cost of carbon fiber prepregs. According to a research study, if a car runs 174 thousand miles during its life span, a car made of steel will consume ~8,707 gallons of fuel, whereas a car made from prepreg will consume ~6,698 gallons, saving roughly over 2,009 gallons of fuel. Apart from providing lightweight structures, prepregs provide benefits such as excellent mechanical properties, low temperature cures, and longer life.
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Prepregs have a higher strength-to-weight ratio, which is an important factor for automotive industry. Vehicles with reduced weight and higher strength have better economy and less carbon emission, which helps to reduce the fuel cost. In the US, automakers have shifted their focus to make lightweight automotive components to increase fuel efficiency and meet regulations of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) 36.6 mpg by 2017 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. This encourages the industry to move towards Carbon Fiber Reinforced Prepregs, which is seen as a substitute for aluminum and steel in high-end cars.
Over the past years, prepreg manufacturers have strengthened their position in the global prepreg market by adopting expansions, partnerships, agreements, new product/technology launches, joint ventures, contracts, and mergers & acquisitions. However, still there is a need for an advanced technology to manufacture carbon fiber prepregs at low price.
Toray Industries, Inc. and Solvay SA are two of the major players in the segment. Toray Industries, Inc. is a multinational corporation that specializes in industrial products having applications in organic synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and biochemistry. The company is currently the largest producer of carbon fiber in the world and synthetic fiber in Japan. It provides prepreg through its subsidiary, Toray Advanced Composites.
Solvay Group is one of the leading players in materials, chemicals, and solutions worldwide. The company is primarily engaged in developing, manufacturing, and selling products for agro, feed & food, automotive & aerospace, building & construction, customer goods & healthcare, oil & gas, electrical & electronics, energy & environment, mining, coatings, and industrial applications. Cytec Industries, which was acquired by Solvay SA in December 2015, included its former aerospace materials and industrial materials activities in the Advanced Materials segment and its process separation and additive technologies activities in the advanced formulations segment of Solvay SA.
The major manufacturers profiled in this report include Solvay Group (Belgium), Hexcel Corporation (United States), Toray Industries, Inc. (Japan), Teijin Limited (Japan) and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (Japan), are some of the key players in the prepreg market. SGL Group (Germany), Axiom Materials (United States), Gurit Holding AG (Switzerland), Park Aerospace Corp. (United States) and Plastic Reinforcement Fabrics Ltd. (United Kingdom), and among others. The prepreg business of these companies was severely affected due to the outbreak of COVID – 19 pandemic, but these companies are still trying to recover from the aftereffects of the outbreaks. Reduced demand for prepregs from several applications and disruption in the supply chain have compelled the prepreg manufacturing companies to operate at partial capacities. However, several prepreg manufacturers have focused their concentration on new product development. These developments, coupled with end-use industries resuming their operations at full capacities, would create demand for prepreg during the forecast period.
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