CINCINNATI - Composites shipments enjoyed an 11.6 percent spurt to hit a record 3 billion pounds in 1994, thanks to double-digit growth in transportation, construction and a boat industry that is buoyant once again, the Composites Institute reports. Other market segments also did well, reflecting a strong general economy and materials substitution. Appliance, electrical/electronic, corrosion-resistant products and consumer products all grew by more than 5 percent. Only the aircraft/aerospace/military segment lost ground, hit by continued defense cutbacks. The trade association predicts that market will bounce back in 1995 and reverse six straight years of decline.
Overall composites growth should cool down in 1995 to 3.8 percent, as nearly all sectors are expected to grow 3-4 percent, predicts the New York-based Composites Institute, a division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington. Institute leaders released the 1994 report, and their forecast for 1995, during their annual exposition in Cincinnati.
The official total for 1994 - 3.04 billion pounds - tops 1993's record of 2.73 billion pounds. It also is the biggest one-year gain since at least 1985. The numbers include thermosets, thermoplastics, reinforcements and fillers.
Composites' growth nearly tripled the 1994 gain in U.S. Gross Domestic Product, said Catherine A. Randazzo, executive director of the institute.
Kevin Sullivan, the institute's chairman, said emerging markets, especially civil engineering, could double the size of the composites industry before this decade is over. ``Composites Rebuild America'' was the theme of the show, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
Transportation, which used 945.6 million pounds, or nearly one-third of all composites, remained the largest and fastest-growing market, gaining 15 percent in 1994. The industry benefited from motor vehicle sales of more than 15 million units, the highest level since 1988, record light-truck sales of 6.1 million units and a record year for semi trucks.
Randazzo said composites' growth in transportation should slow in 1995, to 4.2 percent.
Here is a look at how other markets fared in 1994:
Marine rebounded strongly, growing by 13.8 percent, to 363.5 million pounds. SPI cited pent-up demand, repeal of the luxury tax on boats, a strong economy, high consumer confidence and moderate interest rates. The rate of growth should slow, to 2.9 percent in 1995, but sales of personal, jet-powered crafts and other specialty products will become more of a factor.
Construction grew by 12.6 percent, to nearly 600 million pounds, because of strong sales of new and existing homes, a big market for bathtubs, whirlpools and other composite products. Plant and equipment spending jumped 8 percent, boosting demand for interior partitions, glazing, sidewalls and ceiling panels.
In 1995, Randazzo said, ``Commercial, industrial and institu-tional activity should remain strong and offset a slow year for housing.''
Sullivan, general manager of reinforcements and fiberglass products at PPG Industries Inc. in Pittsburgh, said the institute continues its focus on civil engineering products such as docks, which began in 1992.
Appliance/business equipment grew 9 percent, to 160.7 million pounds.
With an 8.9 percent gain, electrical/electronic kept pace with construction.
Corrosion-resistant equipment grew 6.9 percent.
Consumer products, a broad category that includes toys, sports equipment, furniture and cookware, grew by 5.5 percent.
Products for the aircraft/aerospace/military category declined 4.7 percent. The institute thinks this market will grow a modest 1.2 percent in 1995.
An ``other'' category, in-cluding medical equipment and dental materials, shot up 14 percent.
SPI also reported that U.S. shipments of cultured marble, solid-surface countertops and other nonreinforced composites grew 12.6 percent, to 849.9 million pounds, in 1994.