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New technologies & strategies manage challenges borne from fiercely competitive global marketplace

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 29 July, 2006  (New Product)
The need for innovation, new technologies and strategies to manage challenges borne from a fiercely competitive global marketplace are a few of the themes that emerged from the results of the DuPont Engineering Polymers survey.
Nearly 20 percent of NPE attendees are looking for new ideas, and 20 percent are seeking new resins, according to the results. Nearly one fourth of attendees say their greatest challenge is globalization, while 14 percent say they are challenged by new materials, new material technology and 11 percent point to speed to market as the greatest challenge.

“Collectively, the results indicate our industry is on a hunt for knowledge and ideas that will set us apart in this competitive global environment,” said Tim McCann, DuPont Engineering Polymers global vice president, sales and marketing. “New ideas and technologies to reduce cost, improve integration opportunities and differentiate products in a crowded marketplace are emerging from many directions. Making sense of all the information and putting it to work quickly, those are the keys to true innovation.”

Material Needs and Material Technology
Building on the demand for new materials and new technologies, 18 percent of attendees identified bonding technologies, 15 percent said nanotechnology, and 14 percent identified renewable resources such as bio-based polymers will have the greatest impact on the industry over the next five years. In their most recent programs, attendees said they were looking for structural materials (20 percent), good processibility (20 percent) and heat, chemical, moisture materials (15 percent).

A dedicated R&D effort in the much talked-about but little understood nanotechnology field, promising introduction of new nanocomposites to improve structural capabilities, increase processing productivity and reduce overall cost in 2007.

Plans to produce a new family of high-performance thermoplastic resins and elastomer products made with renewable resources for 2007 with properties similar to PBT and thermoplastic elastomers.

Several new product grades to improve performance and durability in new hotter and more chemically aggressive environments, such as electrical and electronics and automotive underhood applications.

Competing in a Global Environment
Asked which strategies will strengthen the plastics processing industry, 18 percent said collaborating among processors, suppliers and customers, 14 percent said globalize the network and 11 percent said emphasize consumer-facing innovation, according to the survey.

“We see similar results when we survey designers and engineers in the automotive market,” said McCann. “We also see clear themes about their needs from a materials supplier,” he said, referencing the fact that 68 percent of NPE attendees say it is important or very important that their materials supplier offer design and processing capabilities and 61 percent said it is important or very important for their material supplier to be global.

“While many of us are global, few of us have polymer processing in all three major regions of the world and few offer the depth and breadth of technology, R&D and application development to deliver global solutions to regional market needs,” said McCann. “Over the past three years, DuPont Engineering Polymers has invested more than $200 million to expand our capabilities and global footprint.”

Putting it Together With Customer Facing Innovation
Clearly the most important aspect of innovation and global development capabilities lies in product development for various markets, McCann said.

According to this survey, the greatest growth opportunities lie in the automotive and general transportation markets, say 34 percent of attendees, while electrical and electronic markets and home use applications, such as cookware, yard tools, etc., were tied at 13 percent. Within those markets, 25 percent of attendees say their greatest growth opportunity lies in design to enhance functionality and reduce overall cost; 21 percent say they’ll grow by replacing metal and 21 percent say their opportunities lie in designing completely new products.

A new design show experience from DuPont and INVISTA S.á r.l, called Momentum, which draws from 50 innovative materials and technologies and presents them along 12 major consumer trends in a way that stimulates new product design ideas.

A new, comprehensive “Design-Materials-Processing” solution for automotive headlamps that generates up to 40 percent savings over traditional manufacturing methods as an example of the impact DuPont can have when engaged early in the development cycle.

The survey of top challenges facing the plastics community was conducted on behalf of DuPont Engineering Polymers by the Automotive Consulting Group, Ann Arbor, Mich., using its list of plastics professionals and Plastics News readers. The survey, performed in May, was a blended email, phone campaign. Respondents who said they plan to attend the event were evenly split between OEM and processor. Three-fourths of the respondents perform the role of design, technical and R&D; one-fourth are processors.
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