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Bayer MaterialScience shutters Darmstadt site

As part of the worldwide consolidation of its business with sheets made of the high-performance plastic polycarbonate, Bayer MaterialScience has decided to close its site in Darmstadt, Germany, responsible for overall sales and for the production of Makrolon Multi. European customers will be supplied in the future by the plants in Nera Montoro, Italy, and Tielt, Belgium. The closure in Darmstadt affects 90 employees. The company says it will do everything possible to ensure that this step is conducted in a socially responsible manner.

Bayer MaterialScience currently produces its polycarbonate sheets at 10 locations. Other locations are also being affected by the aim to consolidate the business: the sheet business in Australia and New Zealand, for example, and the Laserlite brand name are being sold. Furthermore, sheet production in China was consolidated at the Guangzhou site; the Beijing site was closed.

The current business situation, says Bayer MaterialScience, is behind these measures. Market development in the overall polycarbonate business has changed dramatically in recent years, with new competitors and overcapacities exacerbated by insufficient demand from the customer industries. In light of this difficult situation, Bayer MaterialScience conducted a thorough review of its polycarbonate business model, which includes the global sheet business.

Based on the results of this analysis, it was decided that a consolidation of sheet activities in Europe was also necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the business as a whole and to remain competitive. Markus Steilemann, head of the polycarbonates business unit at Bayer MaterialScience, is optimistic about the future of the overall business. He sees the demand for the high-performance plastic polycarbonate as continuing to grow year-to-year and worldwide at rates that will soon wipe out the current overcapacities. "By adjusting our alignment, we are strengthening our leading market position," he commented.

Polycarbonate is used in the automotive industry, for example, where it is increasingly displacing glass and metal. Vehicles are thus becoming lighter and consume less fuel. Polycarbonate sheets are the material of choice in the construction industry, in particular, where they are used for train station and airport roofs, carports and greenhouses. Architects also use the plastic in stadium construction projects, such as the stadiums in Brasilia and Natal that are among the venues for the soccer World Cup currently underway.

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