Plastics News - Show Daily - October 20, 2022 - 24

24 * Plastics News, October 20, 2022
22 * Plastics News, October 16, 2019
Piovan CEO Filippo Zuppichin
says the Italian company is
ready for more exposure in
North America following its
acquisition of IPEG Inc.
Plastics News photo by Caroline Seidel
By Shahrzad Pourriahi
Plastics News Europe
As a major supplier to the automotive
industry, German specialty
chemicals company Lanxess AG is
upbeat about the prospects of the
automotive market despite a signifi -
cant decline in demand, particularly
in Europe, so far.
In a Q&A ahead of K 2019, Axel
Tuchlenski, head of global product
and application development in the
High Performance Materials business
unit of Lanxess, told Plastics
News that the industry was " close to
bottoming out " the downturn, adding
that his company was " cautiously
optimistic for the coming year. "
Despite the subdued automotive
market, Lanxess has continued with
expansion plans, having recently
increased production capacity for
Tepex-branded continuous fi ber-reinforced
thermoplastics (CFRT) by
50 percent in Germany, according to
Tuchlenski.
Lanxess is bringing its high-tech
plastics and more to K this year.
On Oct. 18, Tuchlenski will be
joined by Greg Mulholland of Citrine
Informatics, a U.S.-based artifi cial
intelligence company, to present
the two companies' groundbreaking
technologies in the use of AI
for developing customer-specifi c,
high-performance plastics.
Q: What is Lanxess offering at K
this year? What would you say is
the highlight of the Lanxess booth?
Tuchlenski: Among other things,
the High Performance Materials
business unit will present new
products and applications for electromobility.
New materials include
orange-colored, heat-stabilized and
fl ame-retardant compounds for
high-voltage applications and materials
that can be used in applications
that are particularly sensitive
to electrocorrosion.
Other examples are halogen-free,
By Joseph Pryweller
Plastics News Staff
Piovan SpA may be based in
Venice, Italy, but it is now offi cially
an American company.
That change in operating philosophy
comes courtesy of Piovan
CEO Filippo Zuppichin, who sat
down with Plastics News at K 2022
to discuss the company's plans
and current vision after making
arguably the largest acquisitions
in recent memory in the global
auxiliary equipment market.
In January 2021, Piovan purchased
IPEG Inc., another auxiliaries
giant based in Cranberry
Township, Pa. The sale, for an
initial payout of $125 million and
a potential earnout in 2024 of $22
fl ame-retardant materials for components
such as cell holders or battery
end plates.
When it comes to lightweight construction,
Lanxess is concentrating
on the new hollow-profi le hybrid
SHOW DAILY
Lanxess cautiously optimistic for coming year
SHOW DAILY
Axel
Tuchlenski
Lanxess AG
HALL 6/C76
technology and the thermoplastic
composites of the Tepex brand.
At K, we will be exhibiting a highIPEG
deal thrusts Piovan
into North American market
strength seat shell and a Tepex front
end carrier with integrated functions,
both of which exhibit excellent
crash resistance.
We will also be presenting new
compounds for the economical
blow molding of, for example, air
ducts for turbocharged internal
combustion engines and liners for
hydrogen and natural gas-powered
vehicles. At our plastics technology
center in Dormagen, Germany, we
put a state-of-the-art blow molding
facility into operation and established
a global team that develops
materials for special applications.
Some of the many highlights at
our stand will certainly include a
tank fl ap made of Pocan, a glass ballfi
lled PBT that can be painted in line
and is characterized by very good
surface quality and high toughness.
Components for high-quality furniture
fi ttings made of a material
from the new Durethan P series will
also be on display. Another highlight
is the heat dissipation connector,
which can dissipate a large
part of the locally generated heat
to the environment thanks to our
new thermally conductive Durethan
BTC965FM30. Also worth mentioning
is the innovative BAGS (Bolster
Active Grill Shutter) system, which
is made of Durethan for the new
Ford Focus. This was developed in
close cooperation with OEM and
Tier 1.
Q: Lanxess has been expanding
million, thrust Piovan strongly
into the North American market.
The IPEG fl eet of companies included
the brands Conair, Thermal
Care, Pelletron and Republic
Machines.
With the sale, those brands
have been folded into the Piovan
family, bringing the company
close to 800 new employees,
a vast majority of them on U.S.
soil. The company now has operations
in 40 countries and joint
venture partnerships in others.
But as importantly, the company
gained a major touchstone
in the U.S. market, imparting the
Piovan name and culture across
the Atlantic. Zuppichin has high
hopes that the new market will
be a growth leader for Piovan.
Tuchlenski
its CFRT technology
over
the past seven
years. Can you
please tell us
more about the
latest developments
in this
technology?
Any expansion
plans? New
products/applications?
Tuchlenski:
We
have increased our Tepex manufacturing
capacity by approximately
50 percent to meet the strong
demand in the mass production
of highly loadable components for
light automobiles and consumer
electronics. For the expansion from
six to eight production lines, a new
hall with an area of around 1,500
square meters was built. The investments
amounted to a mid single-digit
million amount.
We regard the establishment of
the hybrid molding process with
variothermal molds for the production
of decorative components as a
major milestone in the fi eld of thermoplastic
composites.
Following the introduction of the
hybrid injection molding process
for structural components, primarily
in the automotive industry,
this is the next evolutionary step
in the use of Tepex, since in the
sports and electronics industries,
for example, the focus is not only
on mechanical properties but also
on the outstanding appearance of
fi ber composite components.
One example of Tepex's use for
mass production are laptop housings
of one of the world's three largest
computer manufacturers. In this
application, Tepex has substituted
both thermoset and magnesium
components with carbon fi bers in
six- to seven-digit quantities per
month. In addition, Tepex meets
the high requirements for fl ame retardance
(UL94-V0) as well as high
torsional and bending stiffness.
Tepex is also becoming increasingly
established in the automotive
industry in the mass production of
lightweight structural components
such as front ends and bumper
beams, brake pedals and underbody
panels. A more recent application
example is two electrically adjustable
individual rear seats for a variant
of the Audi A8, whose seat shells
are manufactured using the hybrid
molding process from a polyamide
(nylon) 6-based Tepex dynalite.
We are also continuing to work
intensively on the development of
standardized material parameters,
particularly in the automotive sector.
In this way, we can further advance
the simulation of the entire CFRT
process chain. Here we are now in
a position to accompany the entire
chain with simulation tools from
component design to the process.
Q: Another area of focus for
Lanxess has been compounding
activities. How is the construction
of the compounding plant in
Krefeld and the expansion project
in China coming along?
Tuchlenski: All expansion projects
in the compound area are making
good progress and are fully on
schedule.
We expect to commission the
plant in China in October. As things
stand at present, capacity expansion
in Germany will begin in mid2020
with ramp up.
Previously, the company did not
have the infrastructure in North
America to support its long-term
vision of servicing customers
worldwide.
" We had strong experience in
Europe but not in North America, "
he said. " We believe that
the U.S. will grow signifi cantly in
the next few years. Now, we are
American. "
The acquisition close to doubles
Piovan's size - the company
has 1,200 employees before
the deal - but brings its challenges
of integrating new brands
and companies that previously
operated independently under
the parent IPEG umbrella. Zuppichin
said he would not have
bought the IPEG companies if
If you sit back and wait
for developments, you can
the work culture was not already
similar to that of Piovan's.
Piovan pushes its people to
be innovation leaders, similar to
the work being done at IPEG, he
said. Tellingly, about 3 percent
of Piovan's annual investment
dollars goes toward engineering
and R&D work, Zuppichin
said. Culturally, the company is
a major proponent of innovative
thought and constantly strives to
test new products, he said. The
U.S. is a dynamic market where
change is even more fast-paced
and competitive than in Europe,
he added.
" Europe is fragmented with
many languages and cultures,
and that [slows down] the pace
of innovation, " Zuppichin said.
" In the U.S.,
it is simpler, and
there is one way of doing business
effi ciently. Being in the U.S.
for us was a must. "
To that end, Piovan cherishes
the idea that employees can make
mistakes when attempting to engineer
or develop new products,
he said. The price of failure is that
of learning from one's
mistakes and becoming
stronger.
" If you sit back
and wait for developments,
you can disappear, "
Zuppichin
said. " There are no
stupid ideas. "
tors, including local factors, which
cannot be predicted in the current
situation. In Europe, electric mobility
will continue to gain momentum
and demand will pick up again,
while the further development of
the diesel engine in Germany, for
example, can hardly be estimated.
Lanxess is cautiously optimistic for
the coming year.
Q: What measures are Lanxess
taking to mitigate the market
pressure?
Tuchlenski: Lanxess' global positioning
enables it to balance out
regional imbalances to a certain
extent.
disappear. There are no stupid ideas. "
Filippo Zuppichin
Piovan SpA
important in an organization that
has suddenly grown into a world
leader in industrial automation
and auxiliary systems.
The company is still integrating
its new brands and has not
instituted other expansion plans,
Zuppichin said. However, further
expansion, especially in a changing
North American market, is on
the table, he said. The company
is working to incorporate some of
its European technology into the
U.S. market in the nearer term.
That includes a strong focus
on recycling plastics. Piovan
has developed a new fi ltration
system that better screens out
contaminants from recycled
polymers while controlling the
amount of energy used through
a heat exchanger. Some of that
technology for recycling plastics
was developed in Europe, where
recycling is a bit further along
than in North America.
Q: Lanxess was substantially impacted
by the recent automotive
decline in the fi rst half of 2019.
How do you assess the market for
Lanxess for the rest of the year?
How do you see the market developing
in the short term?
Tuchlenski: The signifi cant
decline in demand from the automotive
industry, particularly in
Europe, naturally also left its mark
on Lanxess.
However, we believe that we are
close to bottoming out here. External
factors such as the trade war between
China and the United States,
however, are diffi cult to assess in
terms of their further impact.
If no further trade barriers are
introduced, we expect demand to
settle at the current level for the
rest of the year. Further market development
will depend on many facPavilion
Page
LARGE
PART
ROTARY
BLOW
SCAN HERE TO LEARN MORE
INJECTION
MOLDING
VISIT US AT BOOTH 13A89-17.
MOLDING
PIOVAN SPA
Hall 10,
Booth C20
The company has instituted a
kaizen system of continuous improvement,
popularized in the
1990s by Toyota Motor Corp. as
a way to keep manufacturing lean
and effi cient. Piovan's method includes
tracking production, embracing
change and instituting new
systems continuously. That way a
company can control and manage
its innovation and its workfl ow,
Zuppichin said. That is especially
The company also is establishing
turnkey systems in each
of its geographic markets, where
everything from initial engineering
and installation
to customer servicing
can stay in one
country, Zuppichin
said.
" Work in Mexico
stays in Mexico; work
in the United States
stays in the United
States, " he said.
Zuppichin said the company is
not so focused on its size, but on
its people and their development.
" How do you avoid a bottleneck? "
he asked rhetorically.
" The real bottleneck is not in
machinery or the number of factories,
which are just commodities.
It is in having good, qualifi
ed people and being able to
motivate them. "
This is being done in the current
situation. In addition, we have been
able to reduce excess orders from
2018 and are now back on the road
with normal delivery times for all
our compound products.
With regards to Tepex, due to the
very positive introduction of CFRT
worldwide in mass production
products, this business area is currently
booming.
Q: Finally, does Lanxess have
any expansion or greenfi eld projects
in the pipeline? If yes, can you
please elaborate?
Tuchlenski: At present, we have
no further expansion plans in the
compound area of engineering plastics
apart from the capacity expansions
in China and Germany already
mentioned above. In the CRFT area,
we have just completed the expansion
of capacity as described above.
Audi A8 seat shells are
manufactured using the hybrid
molding process from a nylon
6-based Tepex dynalite. Compared
with a comparable metal version,
the seat shells are around 45
percent lighter. Audi AG photo
Taiwan Pavilion Page
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