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Covestro pushes boundaries in polycarbonate solutions
Source：Plastics News Asia
Date Published：4/5/2017 03:04:11 PM
Polycarbonate offers many advantages to processors and brings consistently excellent results for applications that demand both strength and design flexibility. This material has been proven and trusted for decades that continuous research and development is being undertaken to expand its application.
Covestro has been offering product designers, engineers and manufacturers numerous polycarbonate material options. Ms. Holly Lei, Senior Vice, President Asia Pacific of Business Unit Polycarbonates, Covestro relates to International Plastics News for Asia (IRNA), the company’s material solutions and how polycarbonate has enhanced many products available in the market today.
Ms. Holly Lei, Senior Vice President of Business Unit Polycarbonates
IRNA: Covestro has taken great strides in developing advanced solutions for polycarbonate applications. What factors contributed to its leadership position?
Ms. Lei: As the inventor of polycarbonates, Covestro (previously Bayer MaterialScience) has been driving the development of polycarbonate applications for over six decades. Since its independence from Bayer Co., Ltd. in 2015, Covestro has reshaped its corporate culture and values. It gradually adjusted its business processes and as a result, achieved strong business growth in the global market. The company became the world's largest supplier of polycarbonates in October, 2016 with the inauguration of two new world-scale production lines in Shanghai, further strengthening its ability to deliver the best products and services to our customers. We have also invested massively in our innovation hub – Polymer Research and Development Center – in Shanghai. This market-based approach is very important to Covestro as the company works hand in hand with customers to provide them with the most flexible and tailored solutions to reduce costs and increase efficiency in a fast moving environment.
The company’s polycarbonate business has 64 years of history, but even more exciting for us are the future possibilities. This material has huge potential because of its versatile properties and we are continuously investing in product and technology innovation to expand its applications in line with the global trends. Increasing urbanization, growing mobility, digital revolution and larger populations of older people especially in developed countries present enormous challenges, but they also bring opportunities for polycarbonate solutions to address these challenges to make the world a brighter place.
Covestro polycarbonates are applied in a wide range of industries.
IRNA: The connection between materials and design is becoming increasingly closer, and more and more designers are taking CMF (color, material, finish) into consideration. How is Covestro taking advantage of this growing trend to drive innovation?
Ms. Lei: At Covestro, we are aware that the connection between materials and design is becoming increasingly closer. Today’s designers need to consider design trends, CMF (color, materials, finish), functionality and the sustainability of production processes, all at the same time. Material has become one of the most important enablers for design innovation.
We believe that we can inspire designers with the capabilities of materials while designers can bring this inspiration into innovative conceptual ideas.That’s why we are collaborating with industrial designers to inspire innovation while pushing the boundaries of possibilities.
For instance, in Europe, Covestro partnered with automotive lights manufacturer Hella and Umeå Institute of Design (Sweden) on a revolutionary design concept of future electric cars which was unveiled in last year's K show in Dusseldorf. In the United States, Covestro challenged students from the College for Creative Studies, which is one of the top three design institutes in the United States, to use polycarbonate materials to present an interior concept for future autonomous vehicles. Students considered polycarbonate’s suitability for interior lighting, infotainment, and seating design and configurations etc,. to meet the needs for an autonomous, premium, rideshare vehicle that allows passengers to engage in whatever activities they desire.
In China, Covestro teamed up with YANG DESIGN to showcase CMF trends. Covestro has been developing coloring technologies for polycarbonate resins and their blends to meet industry trends and end-user preferences, while YANG DESIGN publishes an annual report on design trends in China. At the recently concluded Design Shanghai 2017, Covestro’s polycarbonate materials were used to showcase the color palettes of the latest design trends. Many designers showed strong interest in polycarbonates at this exhibition and we look forward to potential cooperation in the future.
In addition, Covestro has launched a design challenge with two design schools in Shanghai, China, inviting students to use polycarbonate to design the next generation electronic devices for smart home. By sharing our product knowledge and expertise with budding young designers, we aim to think different and gain insights into potential new trends in the electronics industry.
IRNA: Sustainability has become a buzzword in today’s plastics industry. What are the achievements of the company in this aspect?
Ms. Lei: At Covestro, we say innovation is at the core of our business, and that sustainability is our soul. It is our belief that innovation should be inherently sustainable, and that the focus on sustainability actually inspires and drives innovation.
A perfect example in sight is the design concept for future electric vehicles that Covestro co-developed with car lights manufacturer Hella and students from Umeå Institute of Design (Sweden).
The combination of glass and metal has been the absolute standard in automotive manufacturing for roof components since day one. Can’t we do better? To this, we reply, “Why not?!” Covestro has no doubt that transparent polycarbonate can replace glass to provide better functionality while reducing environmental impact. Polycarbonate has two decisive advantages over glass: First, it weighs only half as much while offering comparable strength. That makes a car more fuel efficient and therefore more eco-friendly. Second, polycarbonate can be shaped much more easily than glass and therefore is ideal for designing complex geometries. It opens up a whole new world of possibility for automotive designers. And as we know, a signature design is one of the most important differentiators for automotive OEMs. Polycarbonate glazing also has the added benefit of giving passengers a complete 360° panoramic view, creating far better experiences especially if we consider the prospect of future autonomous driving.
Lightweight vehicles, thinner and lighter laptops, energy-efficient lighting, recycling… the list goes on and on. Covestro’s focus on sustainability is everywhere and it is a key driver of our success.
IRNA: What is the future prospect of polycarbonate in the Asia Pacific region?
Ms. Lei: Asia Pacific is the strongest growth region for Covestro, especially in China. China has evolved from a pure manufacturing country to an innovative economy and we are experiencing more and more innovation coming out of this region. It also offers fast and easy access to other Asian economies such as Taiwan, Korea, and Japan where large global players in the IT and electronics industry are located. We have therefore established a strong position in this key growth market because we believe in a market based approach with strong local presence for our customers.
The rising economic development in the Asia Pacific region has fueled the growth of our business in automotive, transportation, construction and consumer electronics areas. As we look into the future, we think this trend will continue. We are also aware that consumers nowadays have higher expectations on products’ uniqueness, quality, flexibility and safety, and versatile properties make PC and its blended products ideal to meet these needs. Its transparency, heat and impact resistance, dimensional stability, optical characteristics and flexibility are crucial properties that different industries are looking for. We are confident that if we manage to address these needs then demand will continue to grow. Ultimately, we aim to grow above market in the years to come to further strengthen our leadership position.
Covestro Polymer Research and Development Center
Tel: +86 21 80207777
Fax: +86 21 80208989
Visit our Product Center: plastics.covestro.com