Composites shipments will continue to outpace the general economy, growing at 4.3 percent in 1995, according to projections from the Composites Institute. That rate of growth is muchslower than the double-digit rate of 11.6 percent in 1994 over 1993. But the projected 1995 rate more closely mirrors the ``soft landing'' experienced by the overall U.S. economy, according to Catherine A. Randazzo, executive director of the Composites Institute.
Even as some sectors of the economy show, composites still are gaining from material substitution, Randazzo said. Growth was consistent, at 3-5 percent, among every composites industry segment except aircraft/aerospace/military, which has leveled off after six straight years of decline.
According to mid-year figures released Aug. 31 at the institute's New York headquarters, shipments should reach 3.17 billion pounds, up 4.3 percent from the record shipments of 3.04 billion pounds in 1994.
Since 1991, shipments have risen 34.5 percent, the institute said.
It predicts shipments in the second half of 1995 should be slightly lower than the first six months, because of unusually high demand and tight supply. The institute, part of Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., plans to release final-year 1995 data at the Composites Institute's Annual Conference and Expo '96, to be held Feb. 5-7 in Cincinnati.
Following is a look at how the Composites Institute thinks market segments will perform in 1995:
Transportation, which soared with 15 percent growth in 1994, will hit 987 million pounds in 1995 for a more modest 4.4 percent gain. Helping composites growth in this category, the largest user of composites, are record sales of light trucks and large, Class 8 trucks, and new applications in cars.
Of the 987 million pounds, about 365 million pounds will be sheet molding compound.
Construction will grow by 4.9 percent, even as housing starts slide by 6-7 percent. The reason, according to institute officials, is traditional composites applications that have remained strong, such as residential panels.
Nonresidential construction isgrowing steadily, providing opportunities in composite reinforcing bar, piling and piers, highway column wrapping and bridges.
Construction should consume some 626 million pounds of composites this year.
The corrosion-resistant equipment market should grow by 4.6 percent, to 394 million pounds, as chemical plants and pulp and paper mills continue to expand.
Marine markets should expand by 3 percent in 1995, to 374 million pounds, thanks to specialty products such as jet-powered personal watercraft.
Electrical/electronic markets should consume 313 million pounds, a 3.9 percent increase over 1994.
The consumer products market is expected to increase by 3.9 percent, to 182 million pounds.
The appliance/business equipment category should increase by 3.5 percent, to 166 million pounds, according to the institute.
Aircraft/aerospace/defense should decline marginally, less than half a percent, to 24 million pounds.
With the new Republican Congress calling for higher defense spending, this market could even begin to increase in the near future, the Composites Institute believes. The new Boeing 777 is boosting order books.
An ``other'' category, which includes medical equipment and dental materials, is expected to grow 6.8 percent, to 109 million pounds.
In other news, the Composites Institute said about 100 exhibitors will show their wares at the trade group's annual show and conference at Cincinnati Convention Center.
New on the show floor this year: Hands-on workshops to demonstrate resin transfer molding, low-pressure molding compound and Scrimp.
Scrimp, which stands for Seemann Composite Resin Infusion Molding Process, is a low-cost way to make very large, thick composite parts.