The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by environmental concerns, modernization initiatives, geopolitical competition and growing importance of technologies such as material sciences and additive manufacturing. 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: fire-retardant prepregs. 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.
Fire-retardant prepregs is a key innovation area in advanced materials
Fire-retardant prepregs are composite materials that consist of fibers and resins that are pre-impregnated with a resin system such as expoy. Some prepregs have added fire-retardant properties that make them suitable to use where fire safety is a major concern. Major benefits of prepregs more generally are their ease of use for some manufacturers, as they could for instance skip the complicated and hazardous process of hardening epoxy themselves for their product by purchasing prepreg. For the aerospace industry, prepregs have a favorable strength-to-weight ratio and are subject to minimal thermal expansion – important for aircraft that will rapidly change temperatures as they ascend and descend. Fire retardant properties are also essential for aerospace safety standards, where multiple points of potential failure – such as faulty electrical wiring or fuel leakage – can pose fire hazards.
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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of fire-retardant prepregs.
Key players in fire-retardant prepregs – 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 fire-retardant prepregs
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The US’s Hexcel is the leader in fire-retardant prepreg patents, logging 154 patients from 2015 to 2023. The next closest competitors are Toray Industries and Boeing, filing 119 and 56 patents, respectively.
In terms of application diversity, Saudi Arabian Oil is the leader, followed by Fukuvi Chemical Industry and Lockheed Martin. Teijin Limited from Japan leads in geographic reach with the most multinational patent fillings, followed by Hexcel and BAE.
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.