In 2016, sales in the Brazilian composites industry totaled USD 810 million, 4% lower than in the previous year. The consumption of raw materials fell 1.3%, totaling 159,000 tons. In terms of operational level, the period marked the worst result of the series, with only 55% of plant occupancy, while the number of jobs fell 4%, totaling 60,500 jobs. These figures are from the Latin American Composite Materials Association (ALMACO).
According to Gilmar Lima, president of ALMACO, the performance was mainly impacted by the slowdown in the wind power and construction sectors. “Added to these factors are credit restrictions, the reduced number of product launches and the delay in the reaction of virtually all segments dedicated to composite molding,” he said.
Of the 159,000 tons of raw materials processed last year, ALMACO’s survey points to the following breakdown: polyester resin (77,000), fiberglass (45,000), epoxy resin (22,000), gelcoat (8,000), vinyl ester resin (2,5000), structural adhesive (1,500), carbon fiber (700) and others (2,300), such as additives, peroxide and plastic putty.
As for the manufacturing processes adopted by Brazilian composite molders, manual technologies, such as hand lay-up and spray-up, stand with a 52% share, followed by automated systems, such as RTM (12%), filament winding (9%), continuous lamination (7%), infusion (6%), pultrusion (5%) and BMC/SMC (5%).
Construction continued to lead the consumption of the material (36%), ahead of transportation (25%), corrosion/sanitation (17%), electricity (5%), wind power (4%) and nautical (4%). By setting aside the demand for epoxy-based materials, wind power leads with 95.6%.
ALMACO’s survey now includes some info related to Latin America – the association has offices in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. According to the survey, the sector that most consumes composites in the region is sanitation/corrosion (32%), followed by construction (22%), transportation (18%), agribusiness (4%), nautical (5%) and textiles (4%). With a 50% share, manual processes ranked first, followed by continuous lamination (25%), filament winding (15%), RTM and infusion and SMC (5%).
More difficulties in 2017
According to ALMACO’s survey, the situation should not get any better in 2017. The expected turnover for the Brazilian sector should reach USD 775 million – a further drop of 4% –, while the consumption of raw materials should fall 2.5%, reaching 155,000 tons.
“The main segments that drive the Brazilian composites market, such as transportation, agribusiness, road equipment, construction and wind power, are still undergoing a period of uncertainties. And even in segments that show a certain reaction, it is still quite slow,” said ALMACO’s president.