Driven by strong economic growth and urbanization across the emerging markets in the Asia Pacific region, the demand for advanced composites materials is expected to continue growing at a rapid rate. In 2010, global composites production expanded by nearly five percent to reach eight million metric tons with the Asia Pacific region accounting for 38 percent of the total production volume, driven mainly by unprecedented market growth in China and India.
According to the annual survey of the composites market conducted by JEC, the organization dedicated to promoting composites internationally, Asian production is projected to make up 43 percent of the global composites manufacturing output by 2015.
"The composites market is flourishing worldwide and a lot of this growth will continue to be fueled by industrial developments in Asia," says Frédérique Mutel, President and CEO of JEC Group. "Market demand for the use of advanced composites is increasing across a wide spectrum of applications, and we expect to see sustained growth for composites in the electrical and electronics, automotive, and aeronautics industry segments over the next five years."
Building on the sheer scale of composites developments in the Asia Pacific region, the JEC Asia 2011 Exhibition and Conference is well-poised to assert itself as the premier industry platform for showcasing composites innovations in Asia.
Now in its fourth successive year, JEC Asia 2011 will be held on 18-20 October 2011 in Singapore. Last year's Exhibition attracted more than 7,000 trade visitors from 51 countries, of which 76 percent of the visitors were from the Asia Pacific region.
"The strong participation of top professionals and key decision makers from Asia is a strong affirmation that JEC Asia is the only industry event that brings together the entire composites value chain in the region," Mutel says. "Similar to its past three editions, JEC Asia 2011 will be focused on showcasing the latest technologies, technical content and innovative approaches that are at the forefront of composites developments, as well as providing the platform for information exchange and tapping into new business opportunities."
Tapping into the latest composites innovations
The JEC Asia 2011 Exhibition is expected to attract more than 345 participating companies, including key industry players from every segment that makes up the composites value chain. To further underline the growing significance of the Asian composites market, major Chinese composites firms, such as China National Building Materials, CPIC-Fiberglass and Jushi, have already confirmed their participation at JEC Asia 2011. Other key Asia-based exhibitors at JEC Asia 2011 include Swancor from Taiwan and Konica Minolta from Japan.
The Show will also be supported by the scientific community and major institutions from around the world, including Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), Hanyang University (South Korea), Stanford University (USA), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Economic Development Board (EDB), SPRING and Singapore Manufacturers' Federation (SMa). South Korea has been selected as the country of honor for JEC Asia 2011.
"This year, we shall further leverage the support of our partners in the educational and research community to encourage dialogue between the industry and composites end users and raise awareness of the breakthrough advantages of new composites materials," Mutel elaborates. "The composites industry in Asia is increasingly coming to terms with the environmental footprint of their manufacturing, and this year JEC Asia aims to drive discussion on bio-based composites as a more environmentally friendly material option."
New environmental requirements for reduced carbon emissions across industries and the increased pressure on manufacturers to adopt sustainable concepts have driven up the demand for advanced biocomposites and environmentally friendly materials that provide the same level of performance as traditional materials.
JEC Asia 2011 will showcase a range of new bio-based developments for composites - especially on how the use of natural fibers, replacing the more traditional glass and carbon fibers, is fast picking up market momentum. Natural fibers have the potential to improve the environmental credentials of composite materials, such as bio-based plastics (or bioplastics), at a feasible cost. Such developments are already burgeoning in Asia, with Japanese carmaker Toyota accelerating the use of bioplastics in mass production vehicles.
JEC Asia 2011 will also showcase a range of new composites innovations that are impacting the automotive sector. Based on JEC's annual survey, the adoption of composites materials in automotive end-use currently stands at around six percent of a vehicle's weight. This level of penetration is expected to increase, as advanced composites materials can help automakers to achieve significant weight reduction while cutting manufacturing cost.
"Asia is driving the new growth paradigm for the global automotive industry, with China and India emerging as the two car markets that are showing the most potential," Mutel explains. "JEC Asia 2011 will provide a varied display of new material developments such as long fiber reinforced composite structures that are revolutionizing automotive production. The key here is to also showcase how these composites innovations can be tailored to the Asian market."
Gearing up to automated processes
The rapid pace of industrial developments in the Asia Pacific region is also driving up the demand for the use of process automation to improve manufacturing processes, especially for high value-added applications in aeronautics and wind energy.
With its strong focus on automated solutions, JEC Asia 2011 is set to introduce the latest process automation capabilities that help manufacturers in Asia achieve cost optimization, enhanced productivity and improved product quality. In the wind energy segment, for instance, wind turbine manufacturers around the world are increasingly using robotics to potentially reduce the cost of blades by 40 percent, which would ultimately make wind energy more cost competitive in comparison with hydroelectric power.
While only 30 percent of Asian manufacturing processes were automated in 2001, the market penetration for automated manufacturing solutions in the region has grown to 64 percent in 2010, according to JEC's annual market study.
"Automation is an important driver for technological progress in the composites industry, and JEC Asia 2011 will provide the platform for Asian visitors to be exposed to the latest means of integrating process automation into composites production," Mutel adds. "Advanced automation technologies also enable Asian firms to differentiate themselves through adopting more sophisticated production methods."
JEC Asia 2011 will showcase new automation capabilities in manufacturing processes that involve composite materials, with 35 percent of the exhibitors expected to showcase equipment, machines and software solutions for advanced process automation.
Information exchange for Asian composites developments
JEC Asia 2011 will be hosting some of the world's leading composites specialists and decision makers to share their expertise during the end-user forums and innovation award programs that are to be held concurrently with the main JEC Asia Exhibition.
Composites innovation is at the core of JEC's activities, and the JEC Asia Innovation Awards provides the platform to showcase and award prizes to leading composite solutions that create value in a range of different end-use sectors. Each year, the selection criteria for the awards are based on technical excellence, exemplarity of the chain of partners, market potential, and originality.
JEC Asia 2011 will also see the staging of the third International Composites Summit (I.C.S.), a program comprising technical conferences and forums focusing on the latest breakthrough innovations across different application sectors in the composites industry.
Reflecting the strong note of optimism held by many industry players, JEC Asia 2011 looks set to build on the success of its first three editions and further reinforce its position as the leading composites platform in Asia - a view echoed by some of the past participants.
"We work in the university and have a lot of contacts with companies who are trying to use composite materials. I find JEC to be a very important place to gain new information and to network with other partners," says Professor Truong Chi Thanh, Can Tho University in Vietnam.
"I believe JEC's activity is very important in the world. Composite technology is making rapid progress, and we need to share it throughout the world. JEC Asia works very well and is very important for us," says Kanemasa Nomaguchi, Board Member of the Japan Reinforced Plastics Society (JRPS).