Covestro starts commercial production of composites
To leverage this market potential, Covestro has significantly expanded its production capacity and developed the Franconian town of Markt Bibart into a location for high-tech materials. It is located in the vicinity of renowned universities that conduct intensive research into the further development of composite materials. Covestro now employs 50 people in Markt Bibart, and further expansion is planned. Overall, the company has invested a mid-double-digit million euro sum.
Increasing demand for composite materials
The demand for strong and light materials is growing worldwide. Composite materials (composites) made of fiber-reinforced thermoplastics play an important role. They contribute to climate protection and resource conservation, by that reducing energy consumption and offering powerful sustainability opportunities. “Covestro develops material solutions and technologies for the major challenges facing mankind, such as climate protection, population growth, urbanization and increasing mobility. Composite materials are playing an increasingly important role in this”, said CEO Patrick Thomas to journalists.
Sustainability as driving force
Patrick Thomas added: “The driving force behind all these developments is sustainability: We want to benefit society and improve people's quality of life, but minimize the impact on the environment. We have also developed a polyurethane resin that, in combination with reinforcing glass fibers and a special manufacturing process, enables the cost-efficient production of rotor blades for wind turbines. In this way, we promote the further expansion of renewable energies.”
“Our polycarbonates have already proven themselves in many applications that require strength, low weight and beauty, and have replaced conventional materials such as metal and glass,” said Michelle Jou, who heads Covestro's global polycarbonate business from Shanghai. “They can be found in applications such as laptop housings, car interiors, headlights and panoramic roofs, and medical devices, just to name a few.”
“However, the electronics industry and other industries want even stronger and lighter materials that can be used to produce thinner parts and integrated functionality,” explained Michelle Jou. “In addition, there is a desire for more efficient production. With our new high-tech material, we're closing this gap.”
The composite material of the future is based on continuous carbon or glass fibers impregnated with polycarbonate, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or other thermoplastic resins. From this, Covestro produces uni-directional reinforced tapes and sheets for further processing by customers. These products can be tuned to infinite combinations, giving designers completely new creative opportunities. Another special feature of CFRTPs is that they feel and sound like metal, but offer the design freedom of plastics.