Balsa is one of the fastest growing lightweight wood species which is native to South America. Majority of the balsa wood used in Asia is commercially harvested from plantations. Due to its fast growth, the wood density is very low, making balsa the lightest commercial timber available. Balsa wood is used in many industrial applications such as aerospace, defense, as renewable energy, marine, rail and road transport facilities. Few major drivers supporting the growth of balsa wood market in Asia are the booming wind turbine industries, growing defense activities, growth in aerospace industry, expanding marine sectors, growing demand of weight saving composite to increase the efficiency of land transport. The other properties of balsa wood are strength, versatility, high impact strength, good sound and thermal insulation, excellent fatigue resistance and a wide operating temperature range which are added advantages compared to other materials.
According to the study “Asia Balsa Wood Industry Situation and Prospects Research report”, balsa wood is used as a core material in structural sandwich panels, in wind turbine blades to boats and aircraft. The wood is spongy in texture which makes it light and soft. Balsa wood is used in making makeshift pens for calligraphy, used in laminates together with glass-reinforced plastic (fiberglass) for making high-quality balsa surfboards, ship decks, building boats such as pleasure crafts. The leading vendor in Asia’s balsa wood industry is Sinokiko Balsa Trading Co (China).
It was observed that there is less demand for balsa wood but will witness a gradual growth over the next few years due to the increasing demand for lightweight and durable wood in marine, aircraft and wind energy categories. Asia balsa wood industry is spread across China, Japan, India, Australia, Korea, Arabia and Rest of Asia. Asia accounts for a largest market share due to the presence of large number of balsa wood processors, cheap labour cost and increasing applications. There is a heavy competition from polymers which are durable and convenient to use, which may restrain the growth of Asia’s balsa wood market in the next few years.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications