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Optical Media Market's Consumption of Polycarbonate Resin Expected to Double by 2005, According to Bayer

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 16 May, 2001  (Company News)
In the last five years, the polycarbonate market for optical media has grown considerably, from approximately 110,000 tons in 1995 to a total of 385,000 tons in 2000, according to Bayer.
Based on an estimated yearly growth rate of 20 percent per year, the consumption of polycarbonate is expected to double within the next five years to reach 770,000 tons in 2005.

Of the 385,000 tons of polycarbonate manufactured for the optical media market in 2000, 75 percent was used for audio CDs and CD-ROMs, 21 percent for recordable and rewritable CDs, and four percent for DVDs. Translated into the number of pieces per product, this means that from the 21 billion optical discs manufactured in 2000, 16 billion were audio CDs and CD-ROMs, four billion were recordable and rewritable CDs and 900 million were DVDs.

According to market forecasts, the demand for audio CDs and CD-ROMs will decrease. However, the market for recordable and rewritable CDs and DVDs will grow tremendously. It is expected that by 2005, 40 percent of the 770,000 tons of polycarbonate produced each year will be used for audio CDs and CD-ROMs, while 37 percent of the yearly production will be used for recordable and rewritable CDs, and 23 percent will go into the production of DVDs.

The development of optical media that meets the market demand for ever- increasing storage density was a crucial element in the fast growth of the polycarbonate market. First, there was the compact disc, which was originally designed for music. It was followed by the CD-ROM, which was mostly used for text data. The CD-ROM has a storage capacity of 680 megabytes and can store information from 240,000 pages in DIN A4 format.

The newest development is the DVD, short for Digital Versatile Disc, which looks very similar to a CD. A DVD can digitally store entire motion pictures with audio tracks in several languages while providing high-quality images. Depending on the model, DVDs have a storage capacity of between four and 18 gigabytes. A DVD-10 has a storage capacity of approximately 9.4 GB, which corresponds to 5,000 HD diskettes or 14 CD-ROMs. This shows the potential and versatility of polycarbonate, a plastic that can store 25 times more data on a DVD than on a CD, yet both discs are made of the same material.

The optical media of tomorrow will be read with blue laser light. As the wavelength is shorter, the new technology can read even smaller pits than previous technologies. Another future technical innovation is the location of the pits: Instead of being placed under a polycarbonate layer, they will be more or less placed directly on the surface. Currently, optical media with a capacity of 20 to 25 gigabytes, where the pits are placed on the surface, is already being developed. With Makrolon3 DP 1- 1265 ST-3000, a product made by the joint venture Teijin Bayer Polytech, Bayer is successfully developing two new products that fit the technology of the future.

Furthermore, to stay at the forefront of storage media technical development, Bayer Corporation recently expanded DVD capabilities at its Optical Media Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pa., adding a full DVD production line, downstream finishing equipment and upgraded measurement and inspection capabilities.

Positioning itself to meet increased market demands, Bayer announced in December its intentionto become the world's leading polycarbonate manufacturer. The company recently invested $860 million to strengthen its technical capabilities and double its annual Makrolon resin production capacity from its present level of 650,000 tons per year to roughly 1.3 million by 2005.
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