As in past years, the development of the market for glass fibre reinforced plastics (GRP) mirrors the general economic growth of the countries included in this report quite closely. This is hardly surprising when we consider the application industries to which GRP parts are supplied. The majority of customers come from a very wide range of sectors, which in total account for a considerable proportion of the industrial production of the respective economies (e.g. automotive, construction).
It is important for the future that companies in the market for fibre reinforced plastics and composites ask themselves a number of questions. How can the potential of this relatively young sector of the plastics industry (compared to other materials) can be publicised and developed even more effectively? How can production and demand in the sector be developed faster than the overall economy? The currently hot topics of series production, substitution of other materials, innovation and precisely targeted combinations of materials contin- ue to offer enormous opportunities for this branch of industry.
Total European GRP production generally fell slightly compared to last year. To evaluate this development in detail, as in previous years, it is essential to take a closer look at the individual manufacturing processes, countries and applications. There is no other way of clearly describing the development of this ex- tremely heterogeneous market. As a specialist segment of the plastics industry, the GRP industry essentially tracked the general development of the plastics processing industry as it has done in previous years.
A survey conducted by the German composites association once again gathered information about GRP production volumes in Europe in 2012. To make it possible to compare this information with data from previous years, “Europe” as resented here again only includes those countries whose production data was explicitly available to the raw materials suppliers surveyed. In addition, this year’s figures for the first time include Turkey, which is becoming an ever more important player in the European composites industry, as well as data from other countries from South-Eastern Europe and Western Asia that have not previously been taken into account. In the following, the term GRP includes all materials with a thermoset matrix as well as glass mat reinforced thermoplastics (GMT) and long fibre reinforced thermoplastics (LFT), Short fibre reinforced thermoplastics are not included here. The market for additional reinforcing fibres (e.g. natural fibres) will not be considered here. Generally, approx. 95% of fibre composites are still manufactured from GRP, i.e. the most commonly used reinforcing fibres are glass fibres (short and long fibres, rovings, fabrics).