The seven main markets that use advanced materials
Our materials processing industry members work in seven main markets:
- industrial equipment
- packaging and the printing industry
- construction and housing
- transport and mobility
- human well-being and safety
- tableware and household appliances
What can materials do for the industrial equipment market?
The industrial equipment market presents new opportunities for high-performance technical textiles and functionalized materials, above all. We have identified six priority areas: filtration, energy (efficiency, storage and transport), electronics, the printing industry, events, agriculture and agribusiness.
This market’s developments and innovations tackle multiple topics:
- thermal performance at high or low temperatures
- filter media with a large specific surface area
- reducing weight and increasing strength
- high-performance biobased materials
- high-performance composites
- design and personalisation
- sensor integration
We work on industrial equipment with industry leaders such as Dunkerque LNG (a methane tanker terminal) and Enedis (an electricity network) and include our business members in these consultations with our Journées Grands Comptes (major investor events).
What can materials do for the packaging market and the printing industry?
Manufacturers in the packaging industry have high expectations in terms of innovation and novel materials. This reflects increasingly restrictive legislation in France and Europe and major environmental challenges (recycling, alternatives to fossil-based resources, combatting marine pollution, etc.). And, of course, end consumers have high expectations. They want packaging to be practical and functional.
‘Today’s consumers aren’t waiting for 2050: they already want packaging that is easier to read, opens and closes effortlessly, and, once used, can be easily and infinitely recycled.’ • Fabrice Peltier, L’emballage à l’aube de sa révolution (October 2018)
Innovative materials for packaging cover two of the three priority market areas: primary packaging (food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and technical products) and secondary packaging.
Although it is novel plastics (recycled plastics, or ones made from natural resources) that are experiencing rapid development, research & development (R&D) in the sector has turned its attention to all packaging materials.
Today’s challenges actually present opportunities for manufacturers and brands: they can reinvent themselves and shape how we consume in the future, with a focus on:
- production accounting for environmental factors: resources / energy / zero waste / recyclability / CSR
- cost reductions
- security, personalisation, traceability, tamper resistance and verification features
- extension of expiration dates
- health (e.g., endocrine disruptors)
- communication and marketing
There wouldn’t be much in the way of packaging without printing! We believe the printing industry and the packaging sector go hand-in-hand.
The printing sector is confronted with restrictions that are both industrial (technological changes, environmental requirements, etc.) and economic (strong competition from abroad, content dematerialisation). Printers are trying to reposition themselves to focus on services with high added value, for example by diversifying into data management, pivoting towards the high-end press, or providing design and communication consultancy services.
The main issues currently affecting printers include:
- competition from digital offerings
- regulations governing the use of products essential to their activity (solvent-based products)
- collection and disposal of waste (packaging made of plastic, cardboard or wood, processing and packaging waste, inks, varnishes, solvents, films, plates, etc.)
- discharge of wastewater into the natural environment
- volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions (mainly on large production sites)
To address the challenges facing the printing and packaging industry, businesses must innovate and modernize their methods. This is exactly what projects such as EIPIT, DECOUVERRE, DrawSpeedGlass, Terafood and CrispyPack are doing.
What can materials do for the construction and housing market?
Construction is one of France’s biggest economic sectors, representing 170 billion euros, 1.4 million employees and 536,000 businesses, making France the European leader in construction (source: 14th European Powers of Construction study).
The construction sector represents 40% of CO2 emissions. In the interests of sustainable development, the sector is progressively replacing standard materials with new materials that improve buildings’ carbon footprints in connection with recycling, air quality and emissions, and plant-based materials, for example, not forgetting resistance to bad weather conditions and other climate disruptions.
Innovations and developments in construction and housing address the following topics:
- insulation / temperature and acoustic regulation / airtightness
- resistance to bad weather conditions and climate disruptions
- plant-based materials
- air quality and emissions
- soil remediation
- retention basins
- vertical gardens / planted roofs
- integration of sensors into structures
- collecting solar energy
- fire protection
- replacement of hazardous compounds / allergens
- design and personnalisation
We have identified four priority areas for innovation for our members in this market: cladding and coverings, insulation membranes and airtightness, structures (tensile and solar protection), and ventilation.
We are also involved in the ‘Habitat bio-inspiré’ (bio-inspired housing) working group led by Ceebios, and have ties with several industry leaders, including Saint-Gobain, Soprema, LR, Castorama and Rabot-Dutilleul.
What can materials do for the healthcare market?
France’s directorate-general for business (DGE) defines the healthcare industry as follows:
‘The healthcare industry is a strategic field with a total turnover of more than 65 billion euros. It directly supports 211,000 jobs. With the shared goal of healthcare, it encompasses human and veterinary medicine, medical devices, and in vitro diagnostics.
An extremely diverse group of businesses make up the field, with huge potential for research and innovation. The pharmaceutical sector includes large French and international organisations, but also small and medium-sized chemicals enterprises and contract manufacturers which produce drugs. Most wholesalers, distributors and logistics specialists involved in the distribution of drugs are SMEs. Furthermore, of the 820 businesses involved in R&D and/or the production of medical devices and in vitro diagnostic devices, 94% are small to intermediate in size, with fewer than 250 employees.’
Novel materials are mainly used in the following areas: medical devices, textiles for hospital equipment, personal care and hygiene, e-health, and hospital linen.
The challenge? To address our ageing population by developing products and services that solve the issues posed by the silver economy and meet the expectations of citizens and healthcare professionals. There are several avenues to explore for the design of novel materials:
- supports and braces
- biocompatible compounds
- drug-eluting medical devices
- inserting sensors into textiles
- ecodesigned hygiene products
- recyclability of single-use items
- comfort / warmth
More information on this subject (in French): Quand les textiles techniques tissent des liens avec le médical.
Other examples of healthcare projects include AUTOTHERM² and TEXTRONIC (development of products and processes to insert electronics into clothing and textile-based medical devices).
What can materials do for the transport and mobility market?
We are travelling more and more. The number of airline passengers increased by 7.2% in one year, there have never been so many cars on Earth (253 million of them for 512.6 million inhabitants in Europe), and workers in France spend on average 7 hours and 12 minutes travelling each week (all transport methods taken together). [Source: an impressive infographic from France’s agency for the environment and energy management (ADEME) in partnership with Qu’est-ce qu’on fait ?!]
The transport and mobility market poses issues concerning health and the environment as well as performance, including recyclability, indoor and outdoor air quality, reducing the weight of materials and energy consumption, developing composites made from agricultural waste, and integrating sensors into structures.
What can materials do for the human well-being and safety market?
We have identified five materials-related priority areas in the human well-being and safety market: emergency services and the armed forces, protection (thermal, ballistic, chemical, etc.), lace, sports and recreation, and everyday uses.
On the one hand, this sector is restructuring and offshoring its production facilities. On the other, we have noted an increase in demand for products made in France and high expectations for upcycled* products and smart clothing.
* ‘Upcycling: the process of making adaptations to used items so as to increase their value, practical benefits and/or perceived beauty. Upcycling is also known as creative reuse and is seen by some as the opposite of traditional recycling. Industrial upcycling describes the use of technologies to reduce waste and resource consumption by creating a high-value product from waste or byproduct streams.’ • Definition from edie.net
There are numerous challenges associated with innovative materials in this sector:
- comfort / thermal regulation
- thermal or mechanical resistance to extreme conditions
- multifunctional biobased materials
- replacement of hazardous compounds
- competitively priced instrumented structures
- traceability / anti-counterfeiting
- competitively priced recycling / upcycling, ecodesign
- design / personalisation
- smart clothing technologies
What can materials do for the tableware and household appliances market?
Consumer interest in tableware and household appliances has been rising in recent years, with a growing demand for products made in France.
The priority areas of this market are glass or plastic items, household linen, furniture, seating and bedding, and decoration.
In terms of materials, this market is strictly regulated by European legislation and controls on volatile organic compound (VOC) and NOx (highly reactive gases containing nitrogen and oxygen) emissions, as well as indoor air pollution and suspected carcinogens.
Our areas of innovation for this sector’s materials mainly concern ecodesign, recycling and new natural materials, replacement of heavy metals, weight reduction and structural optimisation, traceability and anti-counterfeiting, and 3D printing, to tackle the following challenges:
- alternative glass-making processes
- adaptation to short time to market / customisation cycles
- product safety
- alternative materials