The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the pressing need for modernization, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. 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: carbon fiber laminatesBuy the report here.

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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.

Carbon fiber laminates is a key innovation area in advanced materials

Carbon fiber laminate is a critical component in the manufacture of high-performance materials such as carbon fibre reinforced composites. Carbon fiber 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-fiber-reinforced composite plates, also called carbon-fibre laminates, have numerous applications within the aerospace and defense 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 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of carbon fiber laminates.

Key players in carbon fiber laminates – 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 carbon fiber laminates

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Nippon Steel 6 Unlock Company Profile
Daher Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 17 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 10 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 17 Unlock Company Profile
Spirit AeroSystems 13 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 18 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
QinetiQ Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 19 Unlock Company Profile
Albany International 27 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 115 Unlock Company Profile
National Research Council of Canada 11 Unlock Company Profile
Saab 8 Unlock Company Profile
Wabash National 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kolon Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel 130 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 9 Unlock Company Profile
Milliken 20 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 20 Unlock Company Profile
3M 14 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 9 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 10 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 24 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 22 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Denko 16 Unlock Company Profile
Teijin 19 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 13 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 25 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 183 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 67 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 36 Unlock Company Profile
Royal DSM 18 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 13 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 60 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 41 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 21 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 14 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 12 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 14 Unlock Company Profile
Modern Meadow 57 Unlock Company Profile
ArianeGroup 20 Unlock Company Profile
Kitty Hawk 8 Unlock Company Profile
Barrday 27 Unlock Company Profile
Va Q Tec 6 Unlock Company Profile
Wobben Properties 9 Unlock Company Profile
Wisk Aero 12 Unlock Company Profile
Lightweight Labs 11 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 fiber laminates. Boeing has filed a number of patent applications on the combination of polysilazane laminate and carbon fiber 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 fiber laminate manufacturing. Some other key patent filers in the aerospace and defense industry include Hexcel, Airbus, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Modern Meadow.

Saab is the global leader with regards to patent application diversity, while Daher and General Electric followed closely in second and third place, respectively. By geographic reach, Modern Meadow leads, followed by Toshiba and Royal DSM.

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 fiber laminates. There is a sufficient level of overlap in the applications of advanced composite materials such as carbon fiber 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 defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Advanced Materials (AdMs) In Defense.

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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.