The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by environmental concerns, modernization initiatives, geopolitical competition and growing importance of technologies such as material sciences and additive manufacturing. 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: fire-retardant prepregsBuy 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.

Fire-retardant prepregs is a key innovation area in advanced materials

Fire-retardant prepregs are composite materials that consist of fibers and resins that are pre-impregnated with a resin system such as expoy. Some prepregs have added fire-retardant properties that make them suitable to use where fire safety is a major concern. Major benefits of prepregs more generally are their ease of use for some manufacturers, as they could for instance skip the complicated and hazardous process of hardening epoxy themselves for their product by purchasing prepreg. For the aerospace industry, prepregs have a favorable strength-to-weight ratio and are subject to minimal thermal expansion – important for aircraft that will rapidly change temperatures as they ascend and descend. Fire retardant properties are also essential for aerospace safety standards, where multiple points of potential failure – such as faulty electrical wiring or fuel leakage – can pose fire hazards.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of fire-retardant prepregs.

Key players in fire-retardant prepregs – 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 fire-retardant prepregs

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Bombardier 7 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 14 Unlock Company Profile
Aviation Industry 1 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier Aerospace 2 Unlock Company Profile
Spirit AeroSystems 4 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 13 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 1 Unlock Company Profile
The Yokohama Rubber 8 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 119 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 3 Unlock Company Profile
Finasucre 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel 154 Unlock Company Profile
Olin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Gurit 26 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 4 Unlock Company Profile
The Government of Japan 6 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 10 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 7 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 1 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 31 Unlock Company Profile
Fukuvi Chemical Industry 1 Unlock Company Profile
Teijin 13 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 56 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 15 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 16 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Taisei Plas 1 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel Composites 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 23 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The US’s Hexcel is the leader in fire-retardant prepreg patents, logging 154 patients from 2015 to 2023. The next closest competitors are Toray Industries and Boeing, filing 119 and 56 patents, respectively.

In terms of application diversity,  Saudi Arabian Oil is the leader, followed by Fukuvi Chemical Industry and Lockheed Martin. Teijin Limited from Japan leads in geographic reach with the most multinational patent fillings, followed by Hexcel  and BAE.

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.