Ceramic Industry

Freedonia Projects Modest Increase in Glass Fiber Demand (posted 6/25/09)

June 25, 2009
Price increases of less than 1% per year to $0.96 per pound are anticipated through 2013 as a result of intense competition and other factors.

Glass fiber demand in the U.S. is projected to expand 3.3% annually to 7.2 billion pounds in 2013, valued at nearly $7 billion, according to “Glass Fibers,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. The glass fiber industry will be driven by efforts to lower production costs and broaden markets. The best growth is anticipated for glass wool fiber, with textile glass fiber demand constrained by maturing markets and competition from imported fibers.

Price increases of less than 1% per year to $0.96 per pound are anticipated through 2013 as a result of intense competition, adequate capacity and greater imports of lower cost materials. Textile glass fiber prices will be particularly squeezed by the impact of lower-priced imports from countries in Asia,

Glass wool fiber (fiberglass) insulation demand is forecast to increase 3.9% yearly to 4.5 billion pounds in 2013, reflecting the rebound in the residential building segment, particularly in new home building. Demand will also benefit from more intensive use of fiberglass insulation per new housing unit, sparked by concerns about energy efficiency, and fiberglass’ ease of installation and favorable cost factors. Further growth will be threatened by a slumping nonresidential building market, particularly in the office and commercial segment.

Textile glass fiber demand will increase at a 2.3% annual pace to 2.8 billion pounds in 2013. Advances will be led by reinforced applications, specifically reinforced plastics, which are forecast to expand 2.6% yearly to 1.2 billion pounds. Opportunities will reflect glass fibers’ good mechanical properties, chemical resistance, processing versatility, and favorable price and performance criteria. Nevertheless, reinforced plastics’ market expansion will require enhanced performance capabilities and processing improvements in order to replace metal and other materials in more demanding motor vehicle, aircraft and other applications. Additional glass fiber use in reinforced plastic applications will be tempered by the increased use of nanomaterial reinforcements, which are becoming cost competitive and offer higher performance.

Demand for textile glass fiber in other reinforced applications will increase at a 2.3% annual pace to 1.2 billion pounds in 2013, recovering from the declines experienced between 2003 and 2008. Gains will be fueled by above-average growth for glass fibers used in asphalt construction products such as shingles, yet constrained by limited opportunities in mature reinforced mechanical rubber product, paper, textile and other uses.

For additional details, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

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