The latest developments in glass fiber yarn have been in the ultra-fine 4 micron fiber diameter yarn. These yarns are being increasingly used in PCBs for smart phones and tablets. Other new developments are in new airplanes such as the Boeing 787 where 50% of the materials used to build the airplane are composite, including carbon and glass fiber.
As I mentioned before, our company is into a specialty materials business. Our markets are termed ‘niche’ markets, where our competition feels that the volume is not the same as a commodity application. AGY uses its advantage to create differentiated products to exploit these opportunities. We make customers’ products lighter, stronger and faster in the aerospace, industrial and electronics industries.
Glass fibers have revolutionized the composites industry as they replace traditional materials like wood, steel and aluminum. The manufacturing processes for composites have improved and increased in speed over the years allowing the commercial viability of glass fiber composites and the making of glass fiber affordable enough to replace these traditional materials in everyday applications.
I believe that we are well positioned to be competitive in a global market due to our U.S. manufacturing facilities that take advantage of low cost (natural) gas and a business friendly environment. Interestingly, our main competition in China is suffering from high electric costs, high natural gas costs, and labor costs that are increasing at a minimum of 15% a year.
There are two key regions that are growing in AGY. One is Europe where the adoption in technology is replacing traditional materials as design engineers use the flexibility of composite design to create parts that are lighter, stronger and more affordable. In Asia, ten years ago, we saw companies manufacturing parts and then re-exporting them back to Europe and North America. Now, as Asia, and especially China, builds its infrastructure and develops into a world class economy, the company has seen applications being manufactured in China for use in Chinese applications such as electronics, power distribution and telecommunications.
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