INJECTION MOULDING NEWS
Lanxess bolsters portfolio with composites
Speciality chemicals firm Lanxess, known for its light-weight materials and green mobility concept for the automotive industry, has recently acquired German company Bond- Laminates GmbH, a manufacturer of custom-made plastic composite sheets that are reinforced with materials such as glass fibres.
Established in 1997, Germany-based Bond-Laminates specialises in this composite technology sold under the brand TEPEX. Lanxess has already been working with Bond-Laminates since 2006 on several successful projects with the automotive industry.
Compared to metal parts, the plastic composite sheets are easier to process, have excellent mechanical properties and weigh up to 40% less, which means that the automotive industry can cut production costs, increase freedom of design and improve safety as well as reduce consumption of fuel and lower emissions of a car.
“Lanxess is reinforcing its credentials as a premium supplier of innovative products that serve the growing trend of ‘Green Mobility’,” says Chairman of the Board of Management of Lanxess, Axel C. Heitmann. “We see tremendous potential for this composite technology as it spreads from the premium automotive segment to the wider market, " he adds.
Over the last decade, automotive manufacturers have gradually shifted their focus from just using metals to using metals combined with plastics.
Lanxess’s Durethan plastic compounds can already be found in car parts in combination with steel or aluminum. The plastic content in any car can amount to 20 percent – and this figure is showing an upward trend.
Bond-Laminates’ 80-workforce production site, simulation technology and laboratory facilities are based in Brilon. It has achieved sales of EUR 16 million in 2011. The firm will be part of the Lanxess’s High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit, headed by Michael Zobel.
The sports and electronics industries represent the other key customer markets alongside automotive. Bond-Laminates lightweight technology can be found, for example, in footwear, snowboarding helmets, break levers in bicycles, loudspeaker diaphragms and the housings of electrical products.
Lanxess will expand the automotive business and will further develop products for the sports and electronics industries.
“We are delighted to be joining a global company with excellent ties to the automotive industry,” says Bond-Laminates’ Managing Director Jochen Bauder. “In addition, Lanxess’ strong position along the high-tech plastics value-chain ensures we have an excellent platform to grow in the future,” he says.
Meanwhile, Lanxess has earmarked investments of EUR 125 million in expanding its global production network for high-tech plastics from 2012-2014.
Lanxess’s main high-tech plastics value chain is in Antwerp, Belgium, and Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany. In Antwerp, the company has decided to build a new world-scale facility to make polyamide plastics and has recently expanded capacities at this site for the chemical intermediate caprolactam, which is a precursor for the polyamide.
Polyamide is then sent to Lanxess’s growing global network of compounding facilities, where it is mixed and refined with additives and glass fibres, to produce the brand Durethan.
Existing compounding capacities in Wuxi, China, have been increased and a new plant in Jhagadia, India, opened earlier this year. A compounding plant in Gastonia, USA, will soon start up and one in Porto Feliz, Brazil, is currently under construction.
Lanxess has also recently expanded capacities for its Pocan brand of plastics (polybutylene terephthalate) at its joint venture plant with DuPont in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany.
The High Performance Materials business unit is part of the Performance Polymers segment, which generated EUR 5.1 billion in total sales in fiscal year 2011. It has an estimated 1,550 workforce worldwide.