Economic Impact for European SMEs

 

The European production of fiber reinforced composites declined by around one third between 2007 and the end of 2009. Although not all market segments are suffering to the same extent,there has been a clear downward trend across the industry. When analyzed by production methodology, it becomes clear that open molders have been hardest hit, facing a decrease in production volume of nearly 50% over the period 2007-2009. In comparison, manufacturers utilizing closed molding or continuous processes (i.e. RTM, filament winding) did not suffer as badly.

Ideally, our sector needs to find ways to address all these opportunities simultaneously. This is indeed possible as product cost, process energy consumption, sustainability and automation are(or can be) inherently linked.Currently, one of the major cost items of fiber reinforced composite production is curing. The energy required is very high and can make up close to 50% of the total embedded energy of the final product. Hence, microwave curing of composites provides a major opportunity for cost reduction that can lead to;

i)increased appeal of fiber reinforced composites through lower cost
ii)reduction of embedded carbon
iii)improved product quality