Sports composites are fibers that are used in the manufacture of sports equipment to improve their strength, decrease their weight, and reduce the cost. The use of fiber composites in sports equipment is recent. Composite material is defined as a mixture of two or more materials differing in composition on a macro scale. Fiber-reinforced composite materials facilitate light weight, easy processing and forming characteristics, high degrees of freedom of design, and high strength in sports equipment. Composites are able to meet varied design requirements with weight reduction as well as high strength-to-weight ratio as compared to traditional materials. Composites such as carbon/epoxy and glass/epoxy have replaced metals used in sports equipment. Maximum sports equipment rely on humans to make the movement. In this aspect, fiber-reinforced composites have an incomparable advantage. Golf rods made of carbon fiber-reinforced materials have improved mechanical properties. They weigh 30%–50% less than the metal rods. Composite materials have good damping shock absorption capacity, which is one of the primary reasons for their use as a raw material in the manufacture of sports equipment.
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Composite materials do not emit harmful gases while processing and they can be recycled and re-used. Based on the type of composite material used, the market for composite materials can be segmented into carbon fiber, boron fiber, fiber glass, and others (silicon carbide, carbide, man-made fibers). The carbon fiber is robust and it has poor wettability and adhesion. Carbon fiber is used extensively as a raw material in the manufacture of skis, bicycles, frames, and tennis racquets. With the usage of carbon fiber in sports applications, golfers swing strongly, bikers ride faster, and skiers gain more control. The boron fiber imparts good compressive properties and it is used as a raw material in the production of golf rods. Fiber glass is flexible and lightweight and is employed in the manufacture of kayaks. Based on the end-user application, the market for sports composites can be segregated into skis, bicycles, tennis rackets, golf rods, and kayaks. The demand for lightweight and high-strength sports equipment is driving the market for composite materials. Ease of carrying and low maintenance that composite fibers offer and development of new products are the other factors contributing to the growth of the market.
Based on the region, the sports composites market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is expected to dominate the market for sports composites during the forecast period, due to anticipated large production of bicycles in China and India. In addition, availability of labor at a low cost, growing manufacturing industry, and increasing popularity of various sports such as golf, tennis, and badminton are a few factors that are likely to fuel the market for sports composites. Europe is also projected to be a potential market for sports composites, due to high demand for bicycles in Sweden, Norway, and The Netherlands.
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Key players operating in the sports composites market are Zoltek Carbon Fibers, Rockwood Composites Limited, Protech Composites, Entropy Resins Inc., and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex. 70% of the world’s filament-wound golf shafts are wound by Engineering Technology Corporation, which is owned by ZoltekTM Carbon Fibers. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex produces fiber glass yarns for hockey sticks, snow boards, skate boards, and snow skis. Protech Composites manufactures customized carbon fiber parts for C3 PowerSports motorcycle-to-snowmobile conversion kit, which reduce the weight of snowmobile by 20 pounds and enhance the performance.
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