Introducing a new name to the market can be a challenge, but it’s one that Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany) has taken on with gusto. Covestro, the company formerly known as Bayer MaterialScience, went to enormous lengths at the Fakuma trade show last week to ensure that everybody knew their name. Curious, courageous and colorful: this was how CEO Patrick Thomas characterized the emotional values of the new company during a press conference at the show.
Covestro was out to leave an impression, demonstrating its independence “rather like an adolescent child leaving the safety of home,” as he put it. But he also stressed that Covestro was also proud of its origins. “We’ve even taken a bit of the logo with us: the blue-green of the Bayer circle is still there, but then it explodes into a rainbow of opportunities,” he said. “Color, as in diversity—in all sense of the word.”
Building upon 80 years of leadership and innovation, Covestro is the world’s leading supplier of polyurethanes, polycarbonate, coatings and other materials. The company develops high-performance products for an entire series of attractive industrial segments. “We like our focus. There is no other polymer that we want to go after to add to our portfolio,” said Patrick Thomas. “And we will continue this focus into the future.”
With good reason: according to a study carried out by a major consultancy group, the market for these materials is set to double over the next decade.
“We address markets that intrinsically grow above GDP,” said Thomas. “We are the replacement material—the material that the industry turns to when looking for an alternative. But just as important, we had a brilliant owner, who invested fully in the business. So, we are in an excellent position to take advantage of this growth over the coming years.”
This growth is being driven by global trends, such as climate protection and mobility, population growth and increasing urbanization. Take, for example, mobility, an area where plastics are contributing to lighter, more fuel efficient cars. “In mobility, the age of plastics has just begun. Cars are made of metal. I am super convinced polycarbonate will play a major role in the future,” said Dr. Rainer Rettig, Head of Commercial Operations for polycarbonates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
Covestro sees huge potential in the use of composites, such as carbon fiber and polycarbonate. The company is working with leading manufacturers and direct suppliers in the automotive and IT industries and recently strengthened its position in this field with the acquisition of Thermoplast Composite GmbH (Markt Bibart, Germany).
“Tapes are used to make sheet laminates that can simply be thermoformed,” said Rettig. “The material has a “cold” feel, which is what people want. Products come out of the mold with a class A surface. It simplifies what car makers do, by addressing their concerns in a single material.”
Rettig added: “Off-the-shelf solutions are passé; more individuality is wanted. We support our partners along the value-added chain with material developments—from concept to market launch.”
Polyurethane (PU) composites with carbon fibers also offer huge potential for reducing weight. A new Baydur matrix system from Covestro offers three times the energy absorption of conventional resins. As a result, it provides the highest level of safety for occupants in the event of a crash.
Covestro is also exploring the possibilities offered by additive manufacturing methods, such as 3D printing. Among other things, current developments are focusing on even greater functionality and expansion into mass production. However, to make this possible, production must become more efficient, and there is still a lack of suitable materials. To address these challenges and the specific requirements of the printing processes, Covestro is developing thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), polyurethane coating and adhesive raw materials, and polycarbonates. At the Fakuma, the company was showcasing new TPU material solutions for fused filament fabrication and selective laser sintering.