At the 20th FAKUMA fair in Friedrichshafen, Bayer MaterialScience AG will be showcasing innovative polycarbonate and polyurethane products and process technology developments for a wide range of industries on Stand 4206 in Hall B 4. From October 13 - 17, 2009, the company is presenting itself as a supplier of sustainable concepts for a host of megatrends - ranging from flexible surface designs with interesting visual and tactile properties through the efficient production of solar modules to new light and lighting concepts using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). "Developments such as these show that Bayer MaterialScience, with its customized products and comprehensive know-how, has great potential to open up new, promising markets. Intensified customer support along the extended process chain is one of the key factors in generating added value and helping customers to make their production processes even more efficient," observes Klaus Dreesen, stand manager at Bayer MaterialScience.
Flexible customer support for coloring, compounding and technological development An important platform for innovative solutions is the global network of Color Competence & Design Centers, which increasingly provide customers with customized solutions and products from the compounding/production process. Color matches using Europlaque, the production of very small quantities and other wide-ranging technical services covering all aspects of the injection molding and compounding process are aimed at satisfying a highly diverse range of requirements for fast-moving trends and sustainable solution packages in the areas of color, surfaces, geometries and design.
Translucent, fluorescent, phosphorescent and metallic colors are all possible. This year two new sites in Southern China and India have been added to the Color Competence & Design Center network in order to better serve the growth markets and industries of the Asia region with specific solution packages.
A great deal has been achieved in the field of customizing surface design and optimizing the associated production processes. Examples include the cost-effective DirectSkinning and DirectCoating processes. These production technologies are particularly in demand when the focus is on components with a soft-touch or high-gloss surface. As decorative polyurethane skins or foams and 2-component polyurethane coatings are applied directly in a closed injection mold to the entire surface of the thermoplastic substrate or to selected areas, the logistics outlay is much lower than with conventional production methods.
Another great strength of these technologies is the flexibility with which polyurethane surfaces can be produced in terms of color, feel, coating thickness and top-quality grain or high-gloss finishes and be combined with Class A surfaces. In vehicle interiors, for instance, matt surfaces are currently being combined with a scratch-resistant grained surface. One advantage across the board is that the coated component is produced in a single injection mold, thus allowing investment costs to be reduced.
With household objects like chairs and kitchen equipment, the current design trend is towards greater diversification in terms of the use of materials and processing technologies. This makes it possible not only to create new and unusual designs, but also, if required, to design objects with clear and simple shapes, where the accent is on clean lines, for instance. Transparent and translucent materials such as the Makrolon 2807 and 3107 grades are the main focus of attention here, but pigmented grades and films are also attracting great interest. Tactile effects such as hard-soft combinations and graining are playing an increasingly important role here.
Growing trend towards renewable energies The global phenomenon of climate change and the limited availability of fossil fuels are encouraging the use of renewable energy sources such as sunlight. Bayer MaterialScience has worked closely with a number of other companies to develop new solutions to further optimize the manufacture and use of photovoltaic modules. One current example is the SOLON 160/05 in-roof module, for which SOLON SE has already won several innovation prizes. Instead of a conventional installation system, the solar module has an intelligent frame with an integrated mounting system based on a polyurethane material from BaySystems. This makes an expensive substructure unnecessary.
Enclosing the sensitive solar cells directly in films made of the thermoplastic polyurethane Desmopan also offers benefits in terms of productivity. With the process currently used, films made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) rubber also need to be chemically crosslinked, which results in much longer cycle times.
LEDs are shining examples
LED technology is becoming increasingly important in the field of lighting and light management. It is a more energy-efficient and longer-lasting alternative to conventional bulbs both in automotive and interior applications, and in outdoor applications such as street lighting and building façade illumination. One of the first major applications in this area is the media facade of the new Bayer administration building in Diegem near Brussels, which was developed and constructed by the Düsseldorf-based company curveLED in partnership with Bayer MaterialScience. The exterior façade of the new building was equipped with a 2 meter high x 80 meter long LED wall at a height of 30 meters. The LED printed circuit boards are housed in thin tubes made of transparent Makrolon for reliable protection against the elements.
To make effective use of the light from LEDs in other applications, it needs to be focused and controlled. This necessitates customized lenses - free-form lenses - to light up the driver's field of vision in automotive applications or the road in general street lighting. In addition to innovative Makrolon grades with particularly high transmission, Bayer MaterialScience has also developed the necessary process engineering.