SPE ACCE 2011: Growing Again
The Society of Plastics Engineers’ 11th conference on automotive composites fields a top slate of speakers and attracts its largest crowd.
Article From: Composites Technology December 2011, Jeff Sloan, Editor-in-Chief
An event-record 480 automotive and composites professionals attended the Society of Plastics Engineers’ 2011 edition of its Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) — 40 more than its previous best in prerecession 2008. Held this year on Sept. 13-15 in Troy, Mich., the annual gathering returned, after two seasons in an economy-conscious two-day timeframe, to its original three-day format. Further, ACCE organizers filled the more expansive schedule with one of its best-ever collections of papers and presentations. The event provided attendees a concentrated data- and detail-packed opportunity to catch up on the latest material, design, tooling and processing technologies now in use, and for future use, in automotive applications. CT’s editor-in-chief, Jeff Sloan, was there and returned with the following capsule commentaries on key presentations.
An outlook was provided on the changing economics of the composites industry over the next several years. In 2010, composites materials generated $17.7 billion in revenue, and it was predicted that annual revenue would rise to $27.4 billion in 2016. Composite finished goods generated $50.2 billion in revenue in 2010, with $78.0 billion annually expected by 2016. Global automotive composite materials accounted for $2.4 billion in 2010, with $3.7 billion expected by 2016. A most notable statistic, penetration of composites into automotive applications, is a mere 3.6 percent while penetration into marine, by comparison, is 68 percent. That indicates room for growth. Other trends to watch:
• U.S. composites industry growth will beat U.S. GDP over the next five years.
• By 2026, most of the world’s biggest cities will be in developing countries; the resulting population density will drive a variety of
composite markets, including automotive.
• The U.S. has the largest composites consumption per capita.
• The U.S. wind industry will grow 16 percent annually through 2016.
• The Chinese wind industry will grow 20 percent annually through 2016.
• The U.S. Congress is expected to renew the wind industry’s production tax credit (PTC) before it expires in 2012.
• Natural gas prices are expected to increase 7 percent annually through 2016.
A global perspective on trends driving composites use not just in automobiles, but also in a variety of other applications. Macro trends in population growth/distribution, climate change, energy development, globalization, technology research and legislative action, composites have a major role to play in meeting emerging challenges. In particular, clean energy, water infrastructure, urban infrastructure and industrial light weighting as significant opportunities. Sustainable composite solutions, must balance government regulations, end-of-life product management, CO2 abatement requirements, recyclability, total product lifecycle cost and social consciousness. Certainly, legislation and regulation throughout the world looks to be a major factor in composites’ future. It was cited that the European Union (EU) legislation that targets certain maximum allowable CO2 levels by 2015, with incremental ratchets downward through 2020. “The challenge of composites begins and ends with legislation,” it was concluded.