The membrane structure market was valued at USD 7,356 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 11,431 million by 2029, with a CAGR of 5.3%.
The membrane structure is a spatial structure that is made from tensioned membranes. It is lightweight and can readily be adapted in a variety of applications such as long-span roofs, canopies, facade enclosures, and interior finishes. It uses high strength flexible membrane material and auxiliary structure to produce certain pre-tensioning stress in its interior, and thus forms a certain spatial shape under stress control. This structure has enough stiffness to resist external loads.
Membrane materials have certain transmittance, which helps to reduce lightning intensity during the day and saves energy. Additionally, membrane materials have flame retardancy and high-temperature resistance, which can meet the fire protection requirements.
The number of constructional, renovation and refurbishing activities are increasing across the globe. Apart from this, governments of various countries are investing significantly in developing prime and essential infrastructures, such as airports, stadiums, parking lots, and other facilities. For instance, the U.S. had about 19,655 of airports in 2017.
Figure 1: Global Air Traffic Passenger Share (%, 2017)
Figure 2: Indian Spending on Infrastructure Development during 11th and 12th Five-Year Plan (USD Billion)
Membrane structure gives a fascinating appearance as well as offers several functional properties such as corrosion water and fire resistance that helps construct the state-of-the-art structures and survive for a longer period. Modern-day construction demands innovative technologies involving the use of energy-efficient resources.
Tensile membrane structures of fabric facilitate several benefits, such as high inherent strength, extended service life, excellent translucency, acoustical properties, resistance to environmental attacks, and others. Additionally, an enormous range of spanning capabilities of fabrics further adds to the performance of the material. Being pliable, it has a higher potential for folding that can conveniently change its function at different times of the day or seasons of the year, further driving the popularity of tensile structure.
From the past few years, the market has been witnessing a significant rise in the use of a structural membrane in tensile architecture, awnings, canopies, and facades. It is also increasingly used by several commercial and recreational sectors for different purposes. For instance, North America is home to some of the largest stadiums in the world. Its top five biggest stadiums can accommodate over 100,000 people. As compared to other materials, such as wood, metals, glass, and concrete, the tensile membrane structure offers a unique visual appearance and high energy-efficiency. It further assists architects, designers, and engineers in attempting and discovering new solutions.
Flexible design, better durability, lightweight, low maintenance, cost benefits, and code compliance make membrane structure an ideal and sustainable building material. As these are movable, foldable, and modular structures, they play an integral role in various military projects, including base camp and living facility, MWR facilities, forward operating bases, and other government’s public infrastructure. Film and television, corporate, commercial and social events, hotels, resorts, clubs, and entertainment industries are heavily adopting structural fabric for building sets and organizing events, among others.
The manufacturing of chlorinated plastic, including polyvinyl chloride, requires extreme toxic chemicals during the production and disposable process. The chlorine content of PVC has a high potential to produce dioxins that possess a threat to humans. Similarly, phthalates and semi-volatile organic compounds added as softeners or plasticizers can have harmful effects on the reproductive, respiratory, and endocrine systems. As per the EU Regulation 1907/2006, any material or substance that possesses a threat to human health or the environment may limit or ban the manufacturing of the substance. PTFE and ETFE are prime components used in the manufacturing of fluoropolymer, which hampers the market growth.
By application, the membrane structure market is studied across residential and commercial sectors. The commercial segment is projected to have the fastest growth in the membrane structure market owing to its plethora of applications in industrial, recreational and sports facilities, office space, infrastructure, and others. Membrane structures are used in malls, airports, and office buildings as a cost-effective alternative to facilitate additional constructions such as building facades, parking spaces, and entrances.
Growing number of commercial buildings, such as malls, airports, and office spaces, spur the demand for membrane structure. Adoption of a capitalist approach, rising middle-class population, and growing internet penetration have ushered the era of global trading and international business collaborations. Multinationals companies are now building headquarters to facilitate R&D and other operations in emerging economies, such as Turkey and Singapore, among others, resulting in the expansion of airports. For instance, passenger traffic grew by around 5.2% in 2017, as per Airports Council International.
Figure 3: International Passenger Traffic & Domestic Traffic Projections, 2018 & 2040 (Million)
As per the estimations in the Annual World Airport Traffic Forecast 2019–2040, the international passenger traffic in 2018 was 3,600 million and is expected to reach 8,900 million by the year 2040. To accommodate the rising number of passengers, there is a surge in the investment in airport building activities across the globe, further driving the demand for membrane structures. Additionally, factors such as high disposable income and a rise in availing credit facilities have increased the global expenditure, which increased to USD 59.29 trillion in 2017 from USD 56.26 trillion in 2016.
Asia-Pacific dominates the membrane structure market on account of improving infrastructures in education and transportation, combined with economic improvement and rising foreign investments. India has the largest population, which has led to significant foreign direct investment of USD 2200 million in the education sector during 2000–2018, further driving the demand for membrane structure.
The aviation industry generates about USD 700 billion and is responsible for 34 million jobs in Asia-Pacific, which is expected to double in the next 20 years, IATA (International Air Transport Association). Additionally, Asia-Pacific has been one of the leading economies to provide efficient rail transport and has one of the largest metro networks worldwide. Thus, rapid developments and advances in education and transportation sectors have surged the use of membrane structures in the region.
The membrane structure market comprises several players that dominate at a regional and country level. Market participants are adopting various strategies, such as partnerships, acquisitions, joint ventures, and establishing new subsidiaries in new markets, to sustain in the competition. Most of the companies are primarily focusing on the development of membrane structures with innovative raw-materials to keep pace with the changing market environment.
Covertex Membrane (Shanghai) Co., Ltd is one of the leading manufacturers of membrane structures, particularly for private and government sectors. The company pursues an acquisition strategy for the improvement and development of membranes for several applications. For instance, in July 2015, Pfeiffer Group acquired Covertex Membrane (Shanghai) Co., Ltd for new membrane technologies in close cooperation with innovative architects, high-performance material suppliers, and certified research institutes.
Vector Foiltec is another leading player in the market. The company primarily focuses on R&D activities and the formulation of marketing strategies for gaining a market advantage over its peers. For instance, in October 2018, the company sponsored the first workshop on modern membrane structures in Shanghai and lectured on the topic ‘Aspects of the Material Performance of ETFE in Tensile Membrane Structures.’ The company has over 18 offices overseas and completed projects in more than 40 countries. Additionally, the company continuously seeks for an opportunity to increase its revenue margins. For instance, in 2018, it installed over 17,650 m² of ETFE in the under-construction Bank of California Stadium project.
Aeronautec GmbH is one of the key participants in the membrane structure market. The company has a high market penetration rate owing to the diversified product portfolio. The company focuses on capturing the market by establishing partnerships and strengthening its manufacturing facility. Furthermore, it also focuses on maintaining its leadership position within its business markets through strategic acquisitions. To address the pandemic situation and retain the global position, the company has developed a transparent protection film for offices, supermarkets, doctor’s offices, and shops to protect employees and guests.
Big Span Structures, LLC is a pioneer in the global membrane structure market and has installed over 500,000,000 ft² of structures globally. The company is headquartered in North America and has a diversified global presence. It also has a strong market penetration and strategic development rate owing to the substantial capital flow of the company. The growing concerns over environmental protection have led the company to innovate and manufacture 100% recyclable structural fabric. Additionally, it provides diversified products and services through its strong connection with international suppliers and customized solutions. With the large capital, the company has invested in advanced equipment such as automatic membrane cutting table, RF welding machines, multiple heat-sealing welders, sewing machines, and many more for higher yield and quality. The company has two robust manufacturing facilities, primarily for membrane and structural steel plant.
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