Composites: focus and outlook
The market for composites continues to develop positively. TenCate Advanced Composites aims at achieving further growth in the aerospace industry and in personal and vehicle protection. Meanwhile major steps have been taken in the automobile and other industrial markets. The strategy is also aimed at cooperation with participants in the value chain. The outlook remains structurally positive both in the short and long term.
Production of fuselage components for the Airbus A350XWB, with thousands of thermoplastic clips, made of composite from TenCate Advanced Composites (photo: Hervé Gousse)
The Space & Aerospace Composites and Industrial Composites business units generated 25% growth in revenues last year and well over 11% in the first half of 2013 (see press release). This is the result of autonomous growth due to the increased production volume of the delivery programmes to Boeing and Airbus and to the acquisition of PMC Baycomp in 2012 and of Amber Composites at the beginning of 2013. These acquisitions have enabled TenCate to expand its presence in the European and North American market for both aerospace and automotive and tooling.
Production at Amber Composites
The focus of the TenCate buy & build-strategy is currently on composite activities. TenCate aims to achieve further growth in space & aerospace and in the armouring of vehicles and aircraft. In addition, major steps have been taken in the past couple of years in the automobile industry and other industrial applications, such as tooling and pipelines for oil and gas extraction. These markets offer good opportunities for growth and favourable prospects. Here too customers are making ever higher demands on safety, reliability and specific product characteristics.
At the end of December 2012 TenCate thermoplastic composite was qualified for a leading car manufacturer
For TenCate Advanced Composites the market outlook remains structurally positive in the longer term. There are a number of reasons for this. Aircraft manufacturers attach increasing importance to weight saving. The percentage of composites in aircraft is rising: the Airbus A380 comprises 25% composites, while the A350 XWB has now more than 50%. This makes it possible for aircraft to make longer flights with less kerosine (see frame). TenCate Advanced Composites has long-term contracts with international commercial aircraft manufacturers. The outlook for the military aviation market and for satellite programmes remains positive. In China contacts have been made with research centres for the development of aerospace projects. TenCate supplies thermoset composites from the US to an aircraft manufacturer in that country. Meanwhile in China thermoset tooling products are supplied from the UK and thermoset materials from the US and Canada for sports-related applications, and thermoplastics from the Netherlands for industrial applications, such as air conditioning units.
Friday, 14 June 2013: Hundreds of people witness the start of the maiden flight of the Airbus A350 XWB in Toulouse (photo Airbus S.A.S. / A. Doumenjou)
In the automobile industry TenCate is seeing a growing interest in thermoplastic composites. In line with European legislation the average carbon emission of all new cars in 2015 may not exceed 130 grams per kilometre or 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre in 2020. A reduction of 50 kilos will save 5 grams of CO2. The use of composites can make a car 200 to 350 kilos lighter. The vehicle will then emit considerably less carbon, be more manoeuvrable and have a greater radius of action with less fuel. The focus of TenCate is on those parts of the vehicle with critical (safety) characteristics. Development and production will take place in programmes jointly with suppliers and OEMs. In the automobile industry the first orders have already been placed.