As part of its ongoing, group-wide portfolio optimization efforts, Covestro plans to increasingly focus on engineering plastics as its core business centered on polycarbonate (PC) and PC/ABS alloys for applications such as electric vehicles (EVs), electronics, and consumer goods. As a result, its Maezio product line of carbon and glass-fiber-reinforced composites based on PC matrix materials and the associated production at the Markt Bibart site in Germany will be discontinued in the course of the current year.
Maezio composites reportedly boasted versatile processing options for production at scale thanks to compatibility with technologies including thermal compression molding, automated tape laying (ATL), automated fiber placement (AFP), and functional integration by injection molding.
“With its group-wide ‘Sustainable Future’ strategy, Covestro is consistently aligning itself with the needs of high-growth customer industries to generate sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive market,” said Lily Wang, head of Covestro’s Engineering Plastics business entity. “Despite major investments in the development of the Maezio business and in production technology, as well as technological advances achieved as a result, we were ultimately able to leverage only a few synergies with our core business. Therefore, after a thorough review, we have decided that the Maezio product line will be discontinued. This decision was not easy for us,” Wang added.
Covestro started working in the field of continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in 2015 with the acquisition of TCG Thermoplast Composite GmbH. Following the strategic decision to discontinue the Maezio product line after almost eight years, Covestro searched intensively for a buyer for the Markt Bibart site. As this attempt was ultimately not successful, Covestro decided to close the site later this year. Most recently, 48 of the approximately 7,600 employees in Germany were employed there. “We have initiated an extensive sales process, which, unfortunately, was not successful. Our focus on the ground is now on providing the best possible support to all colleagues. To this end, we will be working closely with the local employee representatives to find fair solutions for all those affected and to ensure that the closure process is socially responsible,” emphasized Site Manager John Bauer.
Thermoplastic fiber composites are a highly specialized and competitive niche business. Covestro has invested in building up the business since taking over the site in 2015 and has made very good technical progress in production, said Covestro. Nevertheless, it was unsucessful in scaling the Maezio business. There are only a few synergies with the core business of the Engineering Plastics business entity and the vast majority of key accounts. In addition, the typical customers for thermoplastic composites only order on the basis of joint, complex, and time-consuming technical application developments, and then only in very small quantities. This is in marked contrast to the predominant distribution model and key account business in the Covestro Group.