Global demand for carbon fiber is set to grow by 17% per annum through to 2020 according to Taiwan's UHT Unitech (Taoyuan), reaching 118,600 tonnes. The company, which processes general-purpose PAN-based carbon fiber (200-250 GPa tensile modulus) using a proprietary process to improve its mechanical properties, forecasts the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) to grow at 16% annually over the same time frame, within which thermoplastic CFRP is forecast to grow at 24% per annum.
"Much of the growth in thermoplastic CFRP will come from the ultra-slim notebook and tablet market," says UHT Unitech's CTO Ben Wang. "OEMs are looking for housing wall thickness of 0.55 mm versus the 1 mm possible with aluminum housings." Wang also sees Chinese companies in the sports and leisure industry sacrificing quality to get lower cost products in the market and thereby expand it," he notes. Wang was speaking at a conference held in conjunction with the JEC Asia show in Singapore.