In a midyear report, the Composites Institute projected a 1997 growth rate in composite material shipments of 6.1 percent, ``significantly greater than the 1.6 percent of the previous year,'' said Catherine Randazzo, executive director.
``The industry benefits both from the strength in the overall economy and from the ability of composites to replace other material systems in existing applications,'' she said in a Sept. 29 news release.
The forecast envisions 1997 volume of 3.42 billion pounds in comparison with last year's 3.22 billion pounds and 1995's 3.18 billion pounds.
A composite is a thermoset or, increasingly, thermoplastic, resin matrix that is reinforced with a fiber, usually of glass, carbon, boron or aramid.
The transportation market is growing at a rate of 9.1 percent and, for the first time, will exceed 1 billion pounds. Strong sales were reported for materials in light trucks and thermoplastic applications such as air intake manifolds.
The construction segment anticipates shipping more than 696 million pounds for a 6.3 percent gain.
Consumer products, although a smaller market, see 16.4 percent growth to 226 million pounds, and the electrical and electronic market, driven by booming computer and telecommunications industries, envisions 6.3 percent growth to 339 million pounds.
The report said a slowdown in capital spending in the semiconductor industry was moderating composite-material growth in corrosion-resistant applications to 2.1 percent. A drop in sales of personal watercraft led to a projected 2.2 percent decrease in the marine market.
The New York-based Composites Institute, a division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., will release its year-end statistical report Jan. 19 at the ICE '98 trade show in Nashville, Tenn.