Composite Tooling Market Introduction
Composite parts are formed in the molds also known as tools. Composite tools are also called soft tools and it is easy to construct composite tools as compared to metal tools, as they are made using composite materials. Composite tools are constructed using similar materials and methods as composites production. Fiber reinforcement and resins are used in composite tooling. These tools are in the form of fabric and prepreg. Majority of the manufacturers offer composite tooling in the form of prepreg in the range of reinforcement such as carbon and glass as per the requirement.
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Composite tooling is gaining popularity across industries including automotive, aerospace, wind energy generation, etc. These industries are using composite tooling owing to the increasing focus on lightweight design and the precision tooling offered by composite tools.
Composite Tooling Market: Notable Highlights
- L3 Technologies sold its Vertex Aerospace Businesses to Aerospace Industrial Partners for $540 million. The sales included TCS business and Crestview Aerospace units.
- Machinists Inc. has added new gear cutting abilities as a part of expansion with the recent acquisition of assets from the Gear Works. With new equipment known as Mazik Integrex e-670, Machinists can improve quality and manufacture accurate parts as per the demand.
- Airtech Advanced Materials Group has launched a new line of LTC3 carbon prepregs to lower the effects of thermal expansion and provide tooling accuracy with less rework. Prepregs are offered in LTC3-G1600, LTC3-G1400, and LTC3-G1800 weights.
- Solvay has entered into a partnership with the National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology in Japan to explore new ways to produce next-gen chemical synthesis. Solvay plans to develop new ways to produce materials and chemicals to minimize environmental footprint.
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Some of the leading players in the composite tooling market are Formaplex, AIP Aerospace, LLC, Hexcel Corporation, Machinists, Inc. Airtech Advanced Materials Group, Janicki Industries, Inc., Solvay S.A. (Cytec Industries, Inc.), Gurit Holding AG, and Royal Tencate N.V.
Composite Tooling Market Dynamics
Growing Demand for Lightweight Design and High Performance
One of the major factor influencing the demand for composite tooling is the need for lightweight design in the automotive and aerospace industry. Manufacturers in the aerospace industry are using carbon fiber tooling materials on a large scale as these materials can withstand autoclave cure cycle such as invar can in the aerospace industry. In order to increase the durability of composite tooling, vendors in the composite materials market have started offering hybrid tool designs for the aerospace and automotive industry.
Owing to the high quality standards for various structural parts in the aerospace industry, there has been a significant demand for composite tooling in recent years. In addition, to the growing demand in the aerospace sector, the defense industry is also moving towards using composite tooling as it offers a high coefficient of thermal expansion, that can help manufacturers in the defense sector to produce strong composite materials and parts.
Carbon Fiber to Gain Immense Popularity Owing to Higher Strength and Lightweight
The demand for carbon fiber is likely to increase in the composite tooling market as fiber reinforcement due to the increased strength and reduced weight. High temperature performance or high temperature resistance is the key advantage of carbon fiber, making it useful across various industries including automotive, defense, and aerospace.
Composite tooling manufacturers are using carbon fiber on a large scale owing to the cost-effectiveness and high strength offered as compared to other conventional materials including iron, steel, and aluminum. High chemical resistance is also one of the key factors driving demand for carbon fiber in composite tooling in the internal components in the automotive and aerospace industry. Another material used by manufacturers in composite tools is Bismaleimide (BMI) resins as it increases the tool life, offers design flexibility of the composite tools.
High Vulnerability to Wear and High Competition from Other Materials is hampering the Growth of Composite Tooling
Despite increasing demand for composite tooling from various industries, composite tools are increasingly vulnerable to wear owing to the soft tooling they are finding service in relatively low-volume production. Moreover, increasing competition from invar and other materials is expected to impact the growth in the composite tooling market.
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Another key issue with composite tooling is the mismatch in the phenomenon in the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE). Meanwhile, invar coated carbon fiber is new material in tooling, which has low CTE value and lightweight. However, when compared to hard tools, several tools can be produced using composite materials for less cost as compared to a single hard tool, thus, making larger volumes of composite tools affordable.
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