Brazil's composites market set for slight growth in 2010

According to the Brazilian Composite Materials Association (ABMACO), the composites industry in Brazil sold R$2.24 billion (US$1.25 billion) in 2009, 0.7% more than the previous year.

For 2010, ABMACO expects the composites sector to earn 3% more than in 2009, to reach R$2.3 billion, whilst the number of jobs may reach 72 100.

“The economic crisis, especially in the first half, compromised the performance of our major customers," says Gilmar Lima, president of ABMACO, of 2009. "But the economy as a whole has recovered in recent months and pulled up our sales.”

According to ABMACO, the demand for composite materials increased 28% in the second half compared to the first, totaling 102 000 tons. The number of employees, however, decreased by 0.3%. This was mainly as a result of measures to increase operational efficiency and use of more automated processes, says Lima.

The construction market was the top user of composites in the country, accounting for 46% of the total processed. The energy market (mainly wind power) was second with 31%. The automotive sector fell to third place, with a 12% share, followed by corrosion-resistant applications (4%), leisure (2%), marine (2%), and electronics (1%).

In terms of sales, however, the transportation sector was first, with 33%, followed by energy (23%) and construction (18%). This is because of the higher value added from parts used in vehicles – such as bumpers and hoods – as well as wind blades, in contrast to water tanks, tiles and tubs, three of the main applications of composites in construction.

Manual processing technologies (hand lay-up and spray-up) are the most commonly used processes  in Brazil, accounting for 52% of the raw materials consumed. These are followed by infusion (27%), resin transfer moulding (RTM) (11%) and filament winding (3%).

Although the total volume of composites consumed in Brazil, 182 000 tons, indicates a decline of approximately 1% compared to 2008, Lima remains positive.

“To have revenue growth with lower consumption means that we are generating products with higher value-added and more technology," he explains. "We should remember that we came from a record growth rate in 2008, of 13.3%, and, unlike other segments, we did not go back to levels of two or three years ago.”