The global TPE market –challenges and opportunities

The first day started with general re-marks of Suresh Swamina than, Executive Vice President, Teknor Apex, about Emerg­ing trends and innovation needs in TPE markets. He identified three major trends impacting our industry: smart industry, ma-chine learning, and circular economy. TPEs are only a small portion in all that, but they are innovative materials and therefore be-come part of the solution. Therefore innovating is necessary to ensure the stability and long-term growth of the industry.

Use of TPE in medical devices
It takes typically about four up to eight years to introduce a new medical techni-cal product in the highly regulated market. The presentation of Stefan Roth, Professor of Product Development/Design & Head of Material Innovation of University of Applied Sciences Schmalkalden, Germany, informed about the Requirements for medical TPE grades – Launch of a new VDI guideline. These guidelines are generally accepted recommendations in technical fields. The new VDI guideline 2017 focuses on the description of requirements for medical grade plastics and supports manufacturers of medical devices and their material suppliers. The final version of the VDI 2017 (“whiteprint”) is expected to come out soon. (TPE Magazine will report extensively about the new guideline in issue 03/2019).

The future of the automotive industry
For the last session the wall between the silicone and the TPE session rooms was re-moved and both conference streams united. The joint last round started with Patrick Ellis, Consultant of Smithers Rapra. He provided a lot of useful current market data for The future of autonomous and elec­tric vehicles: challenges and opportunities for thermoplastic and silicone elastomers and identified a series of challenges and opportunities for TPEs in electric vehicles. The speaker sees a need for common regulatory standards in this field and a demand for high-heat resistance TPE and dielectric elastomers. The following presentation of Marc Kreye, Materials Technology Polymers, Deputy Group leader Group Power train and Chassis of Volkswagen, was quite exceptional. In-stead of presenting prosaic tables with technical requirements for elastomers he passionately called for a closer cooperation of the OEM and the material supplier. “We need your knowhow to be successful”, he said.

He strongly encouraged material suppliers in the auditorium to contact him personally to discuss ideas and for this he readily shared his personal e-mail address. Thomas Koeppl, Group Product Manager of Hexpol TPE, closed the final session with a presentation of sustainable and innovative TPE compounds serving the latest auto­ motive trends. As a case study he presented a bio based TPE as drop-in for existing TPS applications in automotive inlay mats. The 65 Shore A material has a 40 % bio based carbon content (according to ASTM D6866-12). The biomass source is sugar cane (certified via ISCC+). The part passed VW 50123 and DBL 5562 tests.

Source:TPE magazine TPE_01-2019