Growth for the carbon fiber industry is expected to resume in 2010-11 with increasing uses for manufacturing commercial aircraft.
Reinforcement material is available, unlike a few years ago when shortages were rampant.
The carbon fiber industry has answered the calling, said Edward Carson, keynote speaker for a two-day conference on the global outlook for carbon fiber, held Sept. 23-24 in La Jolla.
A conference coordinator mentioned the recent U.S. government bailouts for the automotive and banking sectors and noted a difference.
The business of carbon fiber has not required a bailout nor requested any stimulus, said Benjamin Rasmussen, president of BMR Associates of North Plainfield, N.J.
Lessons learned from Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS wide-body jet aircraft developments will transform the future redesign of single-aisle planes using 50 percent carbon fiber composites, said Carson, CEO of consulting firm Growth Management and Constructive Changes LLC of Laguna Niguel, Calif.
He projected that the industry is five to six years away from a single-aisle Boeing 737, and probably a redesigned single-aisle Airbus A320 as well.
Substantial composites may find their way into components such as fuselages, tail cones, control surfaces and pressurized bulkheads, Casron said.
Carson discussed the major challenges for Boeing with its often delayed 787 Dreamliner now scheduled for a late 2010 market introduction and Airbus' comparably-sized A350 Extra Wide-Body, which is slated for introduction in 2013.
Both jetliners make extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced structural components.
Unidirectional carbon fiber prepreg accounts for 50-55 percent of civil aviation demand now, and is expected to increase to 65-75 percent by 2014, Carson said.
Manufacturing processes include automated tape laying, automated fiber placement and hand layup.
Carson was with Boeing for 31 years, retiring in 2004 as a senior business manager. He joined Hitco Carbon Composites Inc. in Gardena, Calif., where he was executive vice president until leaving in July.
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