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'Raw materials and more: Innovative and right for the market'

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 27 April, 2005  (Company News)
Extracts from the presentation given by Bernd Steinhilber, Head of Marketing & Business Development Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Latin America (LATAM) Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants Business Unit, Bayer MaterialScience AG
Bayer MaterialScience is a global player with a worldwide reputation in many fields of the polymers industry. This also applies to the Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants Business Unit with its raw materials for surface coatings, adhesives and sealants. It is a reputation that goes back many decades.

The basis for our success lies in our close partnership with customers and industry. A key role in this is played by the new raw materials and technologies we develop with and for our customers in line with current market requirements. True to our motto of “VisionWorks”.

I would first like to tell you how I see the way we interact with the market and with our customers. This interaction is based on four main pillars: First of all, our product expertise, our understanding of the “materials for visions”. Secondly, our expertise with regard to the manufacturing of our products. Thirdly, the comprehensive knowledge of the applications in which our customers use our products – a basis for “Visions that work”. Finally, our familiarity with all key market drivers and the trends that govern future development.

Each of these competencies has an innovation component. Together they form the basis for us and our products to stand at the top of the international league. Backed by this package of competencies, we will extend our lead in a dynamic market that is oriented to quality, the environment and efficiency.

As such, these competencies are also our bridge to the future. The ongoing interplay between application development and product development is a key driver for progress.

Understanding the market, developing the right product and thus achieving sustained growth. That, as I have already said, is what it is all about.

The first step is to analyze the global market. The majority of the more than 8 million tons of coating resins produced in 2004 is still conventional, based on solvents. But low-solvent systems are on the rise, above all in the western industrial regions. Low-solvent systems also include high-solids and powder systems in addition to waterborne resins.

Although the coating raw materials markets in Europe and North America are currently showing only moderate growth, we should not forget that, in absolute terms, they account for around two thirds of global consumption. In addition, the dynamic technology changes taking place in these markets are opening up significant new business potential, particularly for our products. Typical growth regions are to be found in Asia and certainly also in Eastern Europe!

Our experts say that technology change will have made its mark by 2014.

The market shares of waterborne coating resins in particular, but also of powder and radiation-curing types, will rise. In the latter case, the growth rate essentially counts double because we are talking about 100% solvent-free systems. This development will come at the expense of the conventional systems, the share of which will fall from 63% in 2004 to around 55%.

The market share of polyurethane coating resins is rising consistently. This becomes particularly clear when we compare growth indexed to 1990 with the overall market today. This trend towards polyurethanes is attributable not least to the material’s variety and versatility: The right raw material for the right product for every conceivable application.

A short video film demonstrates this clearly under the slogan “We provide impetus”. See for yourselves.

The images and concepts used in this film stand for high-tech developments and products that express our visions. I will discuss some of these examples in more detail later.

However, “VisionWorks” means more than just ideas, research and development.
Visions must be present in our day-to-day life – in other words, products must be produced, and production processes must also be capable of handling new and demanding products, of manufacturing them reliably, quickly and in high quality. Our coating resins plant in Bitterfeld has been doing precisely that ever since it was dedicated more than 10 years ago.

It was designed to meet these demanding challenges from the very beginning, and was also intended to function as a bridgehead to supply the rapidly growing markets in Eastern Europe. This strategy has since proved completely right. Back then the new, innovative product range was still in its infancy, but as you have just heard, conventional coating resins now take a back seat in Bitterfeld. In 1994, just three new products were added; in 2004, more than 10. My vision is that Bitterfeld will soon manufacture only innovative products of this kind.

The total number of products has grown in ten years from 65 to around 185. Capacity has also increased by a quarter, and the productivity per employee has more than doubled – an outstanding increase in efficiency.

If we take a look at what we consider to be the most important products from Bitterfeld – with the size of the lettering intended to be a measure of their importance – you will recognize a generational change. UV-curing systems from the Roskydal® UA range and waterborne polyol systems from the Bayhydrol® range now dominate production there.

Our optimistic growth expectations have since been substantiated: Bayhydrol® production has risen continuously since 1994 and will continue to grow at a double-digit rate in the future.

With Bayhydrol®, I have now also come to one of our main topics at the European Coatings Show. Let us therefore now take a look at a model of our exhibition stand. We have dedicated considerable space here in Nuremberg to raw materials for waterborne coatings.

Let me give you a few examples illustrating the possibilities opened up by waterborne systems of this kind formulated with Bayhydrol® and Bayhydur®.

Let’s start with the coating of rail vehicles: Using manual spray application, we have a completely waterborne coating system consisting of a primer, basecoat and topcoat. It cures in two hours at 60 °C.

We see future applications in such things as anti-graffiti coatings for rail vehicles because such systems reliably resist spray attacks, have high gloss and are weather-resistant.

That these waterborne systems are also suitable for use in heavy industry is evident from the fact that they have been doing outstanding service for many years in the coating of chassis for utility vehicles. According to the plant manufacturer, these products combine ease of application, a favorable energy balance and high environmental protection standards in a modern solution.

UV-curing coatings represent the second important product category from Bitterfeld. Even though the world market share of such systems is still relatively low, the growth rates are impressive. Production growth in Bitterfeld is also several times higher than the growth of the market.

What makes the combination of polyurethane chemistry and UV-curing so attractive is the combination of two profiles that are already very interesting on their own. High coating film quality and customizable properties can be combined with a fast, highly automated curing process at low temperature and a high crosslinking density. These are ideal conditions for previously unattained properties.

A short film demonstrates that it really takes just a few seconds to produce a high-grade, highly resistant paint film.

What you have just seen would no longer be considered novel for a wood substrate, but this is a metal coating. The net result is a top-quality, highly resistant system – a genuine innovation.

To attain a really broad spectrum of properties, we have developed a modular system containing, for example, polyol and polyisocyanate grades for producing “hard” or “flexible” substructures in the coating. By combining the different grades in different ratios, we can vary the properties of the paint film over a very wide range. The many products given as examples illustrate that our toolbox really is filled to the brim.

And our toolbox can do even more; not only can hardness or flexibility be adjusted, so too can reactivity, abrasion resistance and other properties to suit the relevant substrate and specific application. It is this variability of the product properties that has led to UV coatings becoming so well established in many industrial applications – and likely to become even more so in the future.

The process of UV-curing is now also an option for small, independent firms. It is ideal for spot repairs, in which fairly small, predominantly flat bodywork parts have to be repaired. The process and appropriate UV-A sources are currently coming onto the market in the United States and Europe.

Here, too, we see ourselves as a solution provider for the market and the users, and that is why we are developing the raw materials and technologies needed by this segment.

With that, I would like to conclude my overview of ten years of coating resins at Bitterfeld and introduce you to some more highlights from our stand at the European Coatings Show. Here is the model again.
On this stand – and I would like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you to pay us a visit – you can find information and people to talk to about a variety of topics to do with raw materials for surface coatings, adhesives and sealants.

One such topic is Artwalk®, our brand name for decorative floor coatings. Artistically designed, they are real attractions in themselves. This is demonstrated by the very latest work of floor art from the Cologne artist, Ingrid Scheller, which covers an area of 400 square meters and decorates the entrance to the State Garden Show of North-Rhine Westphalia, which has just opened in Leverkusen.

“Raw materials and more” is what I said in the title to my presentation. The “and more” refers in this case to the way we are working with our partners to put Artwalk® onto the market. Bayer MaterialScience as a raw materials manufacturer is already cooperating with experienced polyurethane flooring specialists in six European countries to broadly establish individual, walkable works of art and our Artwalk® brand on the market.

While our main target with Artwalk® is to obtain an attractive appearance, the emphasis with adhesive applications is on the function. Here, too, we not only have plenty of ideas and projects for new raw materials and technologies, we also have proven products for a variety of applications. I would like to pick out the waterborne dispersions as an example.

The name Dispercoll® stands for environmentally friendly dispersions that form the basis for a great number of “reliable bonds”. Dispercoll® U, a polyurethane dispersion, is suitable above all for the formulation of heat-activated adhesives, such as for the shoe industry. The polychloroprene dispersion Dispercoll® C is used to make contract adhesives.

The fact that it is possible to turn something that is already good into something even better is proved here by our new nanoadditive, Dispercoll® S. With the aid of these silicate nanoparticles, the green strength of the bond can be increased significantly. Adhesives formulated in this way are noted for their long open times, high crosslinking density and high heat resistance. In a nutshell: better application properties and higher quality.

Innovative corrosion protection is another important topic at our stand. Reliable corrosion protection calls for high-quality, durable coatings, and these are two of the particular strengths of polyurethane systems. Ease of application and environmental aspects also play an increasingly important role. And this takes me conveniently to the VOC Directive.

Our new “Super High-Solids” systems based on polyaspartates allow users to comply today with the new European VOC Directive due to enter into force in 2007. It also qualifies our raw materials in countries where more stringent VOC thresholds already apply, for example in Switzerland and Austria. This was recently demonstrated by the two projects in Switzerland.

The Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants Business Unit offers integrated solutions for many industries, applications and substrates. Taking wood as an example, I would like to show you how varied and versatile our portfolio is, and what a broad spectrum of applications exists for our raw materials.

We will look at three aspects: coating, sealing and bonding.

Let me begin with coating. With waterborne raw materials from our Bayhydrol® and Bayhydur® lines, we hold the key to a new generation of furniture coatings that combine unique chemical resistance with rapid drying, as was previously only possible with solventborne systems. This means that a spilled glass of wine can be forgotten again after a couple of wipes with a cloth.

Next we have sealing. Parquet finishes are subject to enormous wear and tear, and outstanding adhesion to the substrate is of the essence. Our experts have come up with a brilliant solution: The functional groups of the cellulose in the wood are utilized to make components of the coating system covalent, thus bonding firmly to the wood. Crosslinking then takes place both conventionally and UV-induced. A dual effect. Better to be safe than sorry.

The outstanding adhesion of this system has been proved in cross-hatch adhesion tests, in which cross cuts are made in the coating and the adhesion of the individual coating segments tested by pulling off a piece of adhesive tape. In the upper picture with the conventional sealant, the broken lines indicate missing segments, whereas the dual-cure surface shows almost complete adhesion of the coating.

In the future, we intend to tap many new applications outside parquet flooring for the dual-cure grades of our Roskydal® family.

Let us return once again to bonding. This joining technology is becoming increasingly popular, in particular because of the high productivity rates that can be attained with it. We see particularly good prospects for our 1-component polyurethane systems, where simple application goes hand in hand with outstanding bonding performance.

Solvent-free adhesives based on such 1-component polyurethane raw materials are, in combination with sophisticated bonding technologies, opening up completely new business perspectives in timber construction. Not only functional buildings like car ports and gymnasiums, but also artistically designed buildings benefit from the growing interest in organic building materials. One example is the spherical wooden building erected in 2002 for the Swiss Expo. We are convinced that private house and apartment construction will also develop into an important market.

To put us in a better position to profit from this trend, we have found a strong and innovative partner in the Swiss adhesives manufacturer, Collano. This partnership has given birth to the Collano subsidiary, Purbond®, a young company and a quality symbol for engineered wood adhesives based on Desmodur®.

Together with Collano and Purbond®, we also want to give this market a fresh impetus at the international level through technical development, joint marketing and co-branding. Purbond® is an expression of our strategy to actively tap attractive and fashionable market segments together with our market partners.

I have endeavored to show you how we at Bayer MaterialScience, with our broad knowledge of the market, with the right feeling for trends, with new ideas, with strong market partners and with attractive solutions, intend to continue driving for success in the future.

Our raw materials, coupled with creativity, expertise and service, are the links between our vision and our customers’ requirements. This is the statement made by our Coatings Show motto: “VisionWorks with best technologies”. We also see this show in the same light – as a link between the market and our customers.
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