THE demand for carbon fibre has increased at an alarming rate. This has occurred due to the aerospace industryfs desire to build lighter and more fuel-efficient aeroplanes.

World consumption of carbon fibre increased at an average annual rate of 5.8 per cent between 1997 and 2002.

At present, the global demand for pan-based carbon fibre is approximately 20,000 tons per year. Over the next decade, the demand is forecast to continue growing at 7 to 8 per cent per year with the recovery of aeronautical applications and expansion of industrial applications.

According to E-Composites Inc, the global carbon-fibre industry is set to grow to $1.2 billion by the year 2010. The market for finished carbon-fibre-reinforced composite parts is set to grow to $9.9 billion by 2010. Demand is higher than supply.

Carbon-fibre usage can be classified into three main segments: aerospace, industrial and sporting goods. About 5,000 tons of carbon fibre is used for sporting goods, which represents around 23 per cent of the total consumption of carbon fibre in 2004.

 

Consumption of carbon fibre in 2004

 

Item

2004

Sporting goods

5,000 tons

Golf shafts

2,200

Fishing rods

1,200

Tennis rackets

800

Bicycle frames

400

Others

400

Aerospace industry

3,000 tons

Industrial goods

14,000 tons

Pressure vessels

1,200

Building/construction

1,000

Wide-power generators

1,000

Automotive

750

Boats

700

Computer frames

5,000

Others

4,350

Total

22,000 tons

 

 

 

The table shows that fishing rods are one of the main components of sporting-goods consumption, taking 24 per cent. Since most fishing rods are made in China, the Chinese tackle trade is affected by the shortage of carbon fibre.

 

Carbon-fibre shortage in China

In China, carbon fibre is used mainly in leisure products, sport utilities, general industrial areas, building and bridge reinforcement, textile mechanics, machine tools and both civil and military aerospace allocations, among others. The Chinese market has continued to open up, boosting the consumption of carbon fibre in China from 580 tons in 1996 to 1,200 tons in 2000, and, more than 3,000 tons in 2005.

There is no precise, national statistic for carbon-fibre use in the fishing-tackle industry, but we have found that in the tackle trade nearly 700 tons are used every year in the city of Weihai, Shandong Province, the biggest manufacturing area of fishing rods in China.

The market growth is only being sustained, at present, by massive imports from Japan, Taiwan and Korea, Mitsubishi of Tokyo, Toray Industries (China) Co Ltd, Toho Tenax Co Ltd and Taiwan Formosa Plastics Group, because local carbon-fibre production is still highly insufficient. The Chinese players do not possess the necessary pan-production knowledge, so they buy precursor carbon fibre and convert it. The quality of their products is not always up to the mark, at least for high-tech applications.

Although the supply has been stretched since about 2003, it wasnft until 2005 that problems arose, with manufacturers not being able to fulfil overseas orders.

The price of carbon fibre has been going up, on average, every three months due to shortages. The average price of carbon fabric in 2003 was US$12/kg, US$28/kg in January 2005, and in January 2006, US$37/kg.

Some fishing rods, such as pole and carp rods, are made, mainly, from carbon fibre. However, due to the rapid increase in price, an appropriate price could not be agreed between fishing-rod buyers and producers, which has resulted in the delayed delivery of goods from producers.

Many Chinese fishing-rod manufacturers are at risk from carbon supply problems and there is the potential for many to go out of business.

The continued shortage of carbon fabric will restrict the supply of fishing rods and increase pressure on price-and-delivery dates. For fishing-rod factories, the main pressures are to provide products on time and how to face the issue of rising costs, while for the buyers the shortage of fishing rods made from high-modulus carbon fabrics is their main concern.

 

COMMON PROBLEM OF WORLD TACKLE INDUSTRY

In 2004, Japan provided 69 per cent of the worldfs carbon-fibre supply; the remainder was produced by the United States, western Europe, Taiwan and Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

Carbon-fibre suppliers in 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Many suppliers want to increase their production of carbon fibre. Mitsubishi is investing about seven billion Japanese yen to construct a carbonisation line, with an annual capacity of 2,195 tons, at the Toyahashi plant. Mitsubishi plans to begin operating the line in 2007 and increase annual carbon-fibre capacity from 3,175 tons to 5,400 tons.

 

Forecast of carbon fibre                                                                                    Tons/year

@

2005

2006

2007

2008

Toray Industies

9,100

10,900

13,100

13,100

Toho Group

6,300

7,800

7,800

7,800

Mitsubishi

5,200

5,700

5,700

7,700

Others

5,900

5,900

5,900

5,900

Produced

26,500

30,300

32,500

34,500

Excess capacity

9,800

9,800

9,800

9,800

TOTAL

36,300

40,100

42,300

44,300

 

gThe industry is playing catch-up,h said Ben Rasmussen, principal with consulting firm BMR Associates, gwith the imbalance likely to exist for two or three years.h

 


Carbon-fibre supply and demand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All over the world, carbon-fibre manufacturers are trying to increase the production of carbon fibre. The products used are, mainly, in aeronautical applications, which results in short supply for sporting goods, and the amount needed will be further restricted.

In this case, the tackle industry should take measures to solve the shortage of carbon fibre, including:

 

 

a)       More flexible agreements with rod manufacturers including flexibility on price.

b)      Improve the quality of the products and make them stand out from the others in the market. Only those in the fishing-tackle industry with regular suppliers and faithful customers will survive, otherwise they will be eliminated from the market. This may improve the quality and capacity of the Chinese fishing-tackle industry.

c)       Use other materials as a substitute for carbon fibre. The goal for fishing-tackle industries worldwide is to innovate rod production.

 

Itfs inevitable that the shortage of carbon fibre will continue for some time to come. The fishing-tackle trade faces more intense challenges, which will force us to seriously consider how to face such market adversities.

 

Contact: China Fish, Mr Li Jiang

Tel: +86-10-58203101/2/3

Fax: +86-10-58203100

E-mail: lijiang@chinafish.org

Web: www.chinafish.org

 

 

Mr Yang Peiyuan, vice-president of Omoto Fishing Tackle Co Ltd, said: gLast year (2005) was a special year for the fishing-tackle industry because the predictions came true: a lot of fishing-tackle companies closed down due to the continuing rising price of raw materials. Those that survived could only struggle at best.h

 

 

Mr Chen Jinfu, president of Pokee Fishing Tackle Co Ltd, said: gCompared with previous years, the competition in fishing-tackle industries has become fiercer. It is mainly because the demand of carbon fibre is greater than the supply; nearly 95 per cent of our carbon fibre is imported, which has resulted in the price rise. As a result of this, the development of fishing-tackle industries is seriously affected.h

 

 

Mr Lu Zhongfa, president of Hang Zhou Falai Fishing Tackle Co Ltd, said: gThe year 2005 was a really hard year for the Chinese fishing-tackle industries. The price of carbon-fibre fabric has risen persistently; raw materials are in short supply. The competition becomes much more intense, and less profit can be made. All these situations will continue in 2006.h

 

Tackle Trade World

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