As demand increased last year the price of general-purpose carbon fibre used in the manufacture of anything from sports gear to aerospace and automotive parts rose by 10% in 2014.
According to reports on the Nikkei, General purpose carbon fibre used in sports equipment like golf club shafts, tennis rackets bikes is now trading at $25 per kilogram on the global market, thats 15–25% higher than its lowest price, set back in 2012
Carbon-fibre used for general purpose manufacturing was often used in high end sports utility bikes, but now is being used in smaller bikes and more often. As for industrial use, the demand growing for carbon fibre among makers of pressure vessels, as the shale gas market grows in the United States.
Discounting for carbon fibre used in the general consumer market, generally regarded as high quality and made by companies in Japan is on the decline with makers directly competing with Taiwanese and Korean rivals less and less.
The prices for high end carbon used in the manufacture of aerospace and automotive parts and relatively flat, as end users have long-term contracts with the big carbon fibre manufacturers. Demand for carbon fibre used by the aerospace industry accounts for 20% of the overall demand.
Prices of general-purpose carbon declined on the global market between 2011 and 2013, due to strong overseas competition, since then the prices have risen although the price level for general purpose carbon is “still so low that makers are unable to make sufficient profits,” according to a Teijin representative.
Some makers have said they wound not want to throw cold water on the momentum for the wider use of carbon by raising prices unnecessarily with Japanese fibre makers hoping to attract demand from end users by using carbon as an alternative to metals and other materials. The environment for export is improving because of the weaker yen. Some market watchers, therefore, expect that carbon fibre prices may not rise steadily.