The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. 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 Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Thermoplastic elastomer laminates.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry
Thermoplastic elastomer laminates is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence
Thermoplastic elastomers are materials that can stretch up to double their size when placed under various stresses, and then retract to their normal size when that stress is released. Laminates of TPEs can be used as coatings and coverings for various objects. They are generally highly durable.
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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of thermoplastic elastomer laminates.
Key players in thermoplastic elastomer 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 thermoplastic elastomer laminates
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in thermoplastic elastomer laminates. One of the key uses of thermoplastic elastomer laminates is on aircraft, where the lightweight and durable coatings reduce energy usage, and decrease aircraft weight. Subsequently, both Collins Aerospace and Boeing (both aerospace and defence companies) are adopting the laminates on their aircraft. Some other key patent filers in the industry include 3M, Mitsubishi Chemical Group, and Toyota Boshoku.
In terms of geographic reach, Teijin leads the pack. Eastman Chemical and Honeywell International stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of application diversity, COSCO Shipping held the top position, followed by Honeywell International, Parker Hannifin, Toyota Boshoku, and Toray Industries.
Thermoplastic elastomer laminates are likely to be further adopted by aerospace and defence companies as they seek to lower costs, and reduce their carbon footprint.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.