In keeping with differentiation on the basis of business model and customer requirements, units with a customer and industry sector focus are now separated more clearly from units that focus on chemistry and production. The new Division Performance Materials combines as never before in one entity materials know-how and the innovative, customized plastics from BASF.
The new division Performance Materials
The product groups encompass in the polyurethanes field the polyurethane systems, the thermoplastic polyurethanes and the Cellasto® damper elements; the thermosetting epoxy resins, the engineering plastics, functional foams such as Basotect® or Neopolen®, the biopolymers, and the styrene-based foam products such as Neopor® or Styrodur®. As a result, the Operating Division is active in a huge number of industry sectors, in the established ones such as automotive, construction, electrical and electronics, in the shoe and refrigerator sectors and even the young, up and coming alternative energy sector. In the first quarter of 2013, sales in the new Performance Materials Division totaled 1.6 billion euros.
The goal is to continue to grow while remaining profitable, to serve the established sales markets even better, to participate in attractive growth markets and to develop new business activities. Many customer sectors rely increasingly on wide-ranging materials expertise for their innovations, expertise that they themselves often lack. With their variety of products and their understanding of application-oriented system solutions, BASF material experts can make a significant contribution here. Through networking, the new division will exploit this multi-faceted know-how internally in a manner that fosters continuous innovation and ensures even greater success among customers. By adopting this comprehensive approach and eliminating interfaces, it is possible to offer unique solutions and services while simultaneously increasing the value added for BASF. Performance Materials is the BASF platform for materials.
Insulation foam portfolio expanded
The Performance lies, for example, in the comprehensive expertise for insulation materials for the construction sector. EPS insulation foams like Neopor and Styrodur are now merged with numerous polyurethane (PU) insulation foams from the Elastopor®, Elastopir® and Elastospray® product range. From this huge portfolio, BASF construction experts can recommend the best individual solution. Among the news in the Division is a high performance PU foam with extremely high insulation capacity, that comes directly from product research. It comes as a kind of solid aerogel and will be launched in the market in two to three years.
Automotive plastics in a new way
For die automotive field, too, all materials are now under one roof, from engineering thermoplastics, via thermoset epoxy resins to PU foams for sandwich constructions. All relevant composite concepts are now also close to each other and will lead to tangible synergies. The first step into the new composite direction is Ultracom™: The innovations in this all-embracing product and service package are continuous-fiber reinforced semi-finished laminates, combined with ovemolding compounds from BASF’s Ultramid range and a complete development and service platform for part production. The focus is on body and chassis components made of composites. They offer an additional weight reduction of up to 60% per part compared to steel. If developing well, the market for composite components will have a size of roughly two billion euros in 2025/2030, according to BASF. In order to participate in this market and shape it actively, BASF intends to invest a high two-digit million euro sum in research and development of thermoplastic and thermoset composites in the next three years.
The company is explicitly inviting carmakers to assess light weight solutions with BASF during the next three years and to develop first production components on BASF’s material platform together.
New foam for a new running shoe
One innovation of high public interest comes from adidas which would not have been possible without a new material from BASF: Looking beyond the horizon of individual materials and technologies again allowed the chemical company to achieve an extraordinary innovation: the world's first expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU). As of today, with its official launch, it bears the trade name InfinergyTM. The first high-volume production project with this new material is the new "Energy Boost" running shoe from adidas. In this material, the knowledge of thermoplastic polyurethanes was combined with the technological know-how required to generate particle foams. The result is a foam material that satisfies demanding requirements for resilience combined with high durability.
Infinergy can be used wherever customers require a combination of lightweight, extraordinary mechanical properties and high durability over a wide range of temperatures. Other possible examples include, for instance, sports floors. In addition, Infinergy can also replace rubber as a damping element where a light-weight material is sought, as in bicycle tire tubes.