The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by environmental concerns, geopolitical competition, modernization initiatives and the growing importance of technologies such as additive manufacturing, advanced materials, digital design, and nanotechnologies. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Advanced materials in defense: conductive composites. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Conductive composites is a key innovation area in advanced materials
Conductive composites refer to materials that exhibit both electrical conductivity and material properties of traditional composites. Whilst many different composites have some degree of conductivity, a ‘conductive composite’ is better understood as one that can achieve stable and relatively high electric conduction, for specific practical applications. They are widely used in various industries for their ability to combine the benefits of both electrical conductivity and mechanical rigidity. Some key areas of focus for the conductive composites space in the coming years will be research into alternatives to the cement and graphite powder raw materials that are often used today, as they can grow expensive for scaled production and are not environmentally sustainable.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of conductive composites.
Key players in conductive composites – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to conductive composites
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
US aerospace and defense giant Boeing is the leading patent filer in conductive composites, filing 51 patents from 2015 to 2023, which is a significant number for a specialist field. Its rival in commercial aerospace, Airbus, stood second, filing nine patents.
In terms of application diversity, Boeing also leads the pack, followed by HEICO and Airbus. By geographic reach, Israel Aerospace Industry filed patents related to conductive composites in the highest number of countries, followed by Boeing and Airbus.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Advanced Materials (AdMs) in Defense.