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: Epoxy prepregs.

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

Epoxy prepregs is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence

Prepreg is a reinforcing fabric with resin that includes a proper curing agent and can be laid into a mould without the need for more resin. Prepreg is a semi-finished product for making fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) 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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of epoxy prepregs.

Key players in epoxy prepregs – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘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’.

Hexcel is the leading patent filer in this area, the company makes prepregs and resins for aerospace and industrial applications – including for use in civil and military aircraft, rotorcraft and satellite technology. Their toughness and fire-resistant capabilities make them ideal for this use. Toray Industries is the second largest patent filer in this sector, making a variety of prepregs and resins for the same purposes and filing patents as part of the innovation process. Other key patent filers in this sector include Gurit , JX Nippon Oil and Energy and Subaru.

In terms of application diversity, ENEOS leads the pack, followed by Yokohama Rubber and Mitsubishi Chemical Group . By geographic reach, Bombardier is top, followed by Hexcel and Toray Industries .

The advancement of this technology has a significant impact on future aircraft, and can provide innovative solutions to existing and future problems.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

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.