The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Soldier modernization in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Carbon fiber laminates. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Carbon fibre laminates is a key innovation area in soldier modernisation

Carbon fibre laminate is a critical component in the manufacture of high-performance materials such as carbon fibre reinforced composites. Carbon fibre laminate is a uniquely resilient material composed of a matrix of interwoven carbon fibre layers bonded together by a reinforcement material, typically a hardened plastic such as epoxy resin. Carbon-fibre-reinforced composite plates, also called carbon-fibre laminates, have numerous applications within the aerospace and defence industry, acting as a primary component for airframes, personal protective equipment, and various other products.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of carbon fibre laminates.

Key players in carbon fibre laminates – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to carbon fibre laminates

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Boeing 120 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 90 Unlock company profile
Hexcel 87 Unlock company profile
Modern Meadow 45 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 43 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 37 Unlock company profile
Airbus 35 Unlock company profile
Albany International 27 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 20 Unlock company profile
Milliken & Co 19 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 18 Unlock company profile
Raytheon Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
Safran 15 Unlock company profile
General Electric 13 Unlock company profile
QinetiQ Group 13 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 12 Unlock company profile
AGC 12 Unlock company profile
DAHER Aerospace 12 Unlock company profile
Textron 11 Unlock company profile
Royal DSM 11 Unlock company profile
Lightweight Labs 11 Unlock company profile
Nitto Denko 10 Unlock company profile
Wisk Aero 10 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
ArianeGroup 9 Unlock company profile
JX Nippon Oil and Energy 9 Unlock company profile
3M 8 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 8 Unlock company profile
Subaru 8 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Kitty Hawk 8 Unlock company profile
Melrose Industries 8 Unlock company profile
Kolon 8 Unlock company profile
Wobben Properties 8 Unlock company profile
Triumph Group 7 Unlock company profile
Spirit AeroSystems Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
Sika 6 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 6 Unlock company profile
Saab 6 Unlock company profile
Avient 6 Unlock company profile
Northrop Grumman 5 Unlock company profile
Wabash National 5 Unlock company profile
ENEOS Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
Showa Denko 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading company in terms of global patent filings is Boeing, as the company has been at the forefront of researching and developing new applications and manufacturing solutions for carbon fibre laminates. Boeing has recently filed a number of patent applications on the combination of polysilazane laminate and carbon fibre reinforced polymers to produce a more resilient high-performance composite. Toray Industries has also filed several patents over the last few years regarding new methods of producing prepreg materials for use in carbon fibre laminate manufacturing. Some other key patent filers in the aerospace and defence industry include Hexcel, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Modern Meadow and Honeywell International.

Saab was the global leader with regards to patent application diversity, while General Electric and Daher Aerospace followed closely in second and third place, respectively. With regards to geographic reach, Kolon leads the way in this field, followed by Albany International and Honeywell International.

As the outbreak of high intensity warfare in Europe causes nations around the globe to re-assess their military capabilities, concerns regarding the survivability of human servicemembers against the weapons of peer-level adversaries is a key factor driving investment and innovation in the development of advanced composites such as carbon fibre laminates. There is a sufficient level of overlap in the applications of advanced composite materials such as carbon fibre laminates that several companies are active in both the aircraft manufacturing and soldier personal protective equipment markets due to their broad expertise in this domain.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.