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China's Booming PEEK Market: A New Era for Robotics and eVTOL

Jun. 29, 2024

China's Booming PEEK Market: A New Era for Robotics and eVTOL

According to the official website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, on June 16, Wang Jiangping, a member of the Party Group and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, chaired the 2024 National Raw Materials Industry Symposium in Chongqing. The meeting proposed building new growth engines, such as new materials, and accelerating the cultivation of new production capacities.

PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone), an important new material for humanoid robots and flying cars (eVTOL), has been a focal point for industry development recently and is expected to receive more policy benefits in the future.

At the same time, the development of new production capacities will increase the demand for PEEK materials. Humanoid robots and eVTOL are key devices driving the development of new production capacities. As the industrialization nodes approach, the demand for PEEK materials is expected to increase.

1. Humanoid Robots and Flying Cars Drive Demand for PEEK Materials

Since 2023, giant companies like Tesla have been continuously iterating and upgrading humanoid robots, and both domestic and international flying car companies are actively promoting commercialization. This has sparked strong interest among investors in these two fields. Both humanoid robots and flying cars face the challenge of material lightweighting, and PEEK has become an essential material in these popular fields.

PEEK, or Polyether Ether Ketone, is a high-performance engineering plastic with excellent mechanical properties, including high strength, high toughness, and high stiffness. It also offers resistance to high temperatures, impacts, self-lubrication, corrosion, flame, fatigue, radiation, and has good electrical properties. These characteristics make PEEK widely applicable in aerospace, automotive, electronics, and medical devices.

In recent years, with the continuous shift of global electronics, automotive, and aerospace production to the Asia-Pacific region, the consumption growth rate of PEEK in the Asia-Pacific region has far exceeded that of Europe.

Recently, the 2024 National Raw Materials Industry Symposium was held in Chongqing. The meeting proposed to accelerate the cultivation and expansion of the new materials industry to ensure the demand for major applications and achieve material leadership. The systematic layout includes the construction of a new materials big data center, promotion of new materials pilot platforms, improvement of the first batch of material application promotion policy systems, and speeding up to fill shortcomings and extend strengths.

2. Rapid Development of Humanoid Robots and eVTOL, Opportunities for PEEK Materials

The market's strong attention to PEEK materials is closely related to the rapid development of humanoid robots and eVTOL.

Since 2023, tech giants like Tesla have been continuously iterating and upgrading humanoid robots; since the beginning of this year, China's low-altitude economy has seen continuous advancements in both policy and industry. Both humanoid robots and flying cars face the challenge of lightweight materials, and PEEK is an essential material in these fields.

In the field of humanoid robots, to enhance material strength, the composite use of PEEK and carbon fiber has become an important trend. Currently, domestic manufacturers have applied PEEK materials to parts such as joints, bearings, and gears of humanoid robots, forming a supporting production chain.

Other tech giants interested in humanoid robots include the popular NVIDIA. At the NVIDIA 2024 GTC (GPU Technology Conference) held in March, NVIDIA launched the GR00T project, which can provide a foundational model for the development of humanoid robots, enabling them to handle multi-modal information. Robots developed through GR00T will be able to observe human behavior to understand commands and provide feedback.

Domestic tech companies are also continuously deploying humanoid robots, attracting support from state-owned capital. Recently, Beijing Xiaomi Robotics Technology Co., Ltd. changed its business information, and E-Town Capital, under Beijing E-Town International Investment & Development Co., Ltd., invested in Xiaomi Robotics.

PEEK materials benefit not only from the rapid development of humanoid robots but also have a close relationship with eVTOL. In June, XPeng's HT Aero Voyager X2 had its first flight at Beijing Daxing International Airport's airport economic zone. Previously, Autoflight's self-developed 2-ton eVTOL V2000CG Kairou completed a special flight at Pudong Airport, demonstrating the leading position of Chinese eVTOL companies.

Earlier this year, XPeng HT Aero and Autoflight have already promoted eVTOL flight activities. In early April, EHang obtained the world's first eVTOL production certificate and became the only eVTOL manufacturer to receive all three major certifications.

While domestic companies accelerate eVTOL research and development, international car companies are also actively promoting related research. Hyundai plans to mass-produce the S-A2, and the company will apply for the U.S. airworthiness certificate before mid-2024, aiming to start flight technology demonstrations by the end of the year and potentially launch commercial services by 2028.

The Osaka-Kansai Expo, scheduled for April 2025, with the theme "Designing Future Society, Imagining Life Tomorrow," will feature eVTOL as an important element.

The low-altitude economy and flying cars (eVTOL) are entering a golden development phase. During the development of eVTOL, lightweight, high-strength materials like PEEK and carbon fiber are expected to experience rapid growth.

China's PEEK market demand growth is particularly notable. According to data from the Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, from 2012 to 2021, China's PEEK product consumption increased from 80 tons to 1980 tons, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 42.8%. According to Sullivan Consulting's forecast, the demand for PEEK products in China will continue to grow at a CAGR of 16.82% from 2022 to 2027, and it is expected to reach a scale of 5078.98 tons by 2027. Institutions indicate that with the rapid development of industries such as humanoid robots and flying cars, the demand for lightweight PEEK materials will also continue to increase.