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Chemical Industry at K 2013

Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Functional Materials and System Solutions Take Center Stage

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Plastics in the Fast Lane –Lanxess on the 'Rubber Road'

While others dream of flying, Lanxess is concentrating on ground-based mobility. “There are more than one billion cars on the roads worldwide, and that number will increase to 2.5 billion by 2050,” reported Executive Board member Dr. Werner Breuers. Great news for the chemical producer which already generates 20 % of its turnover with its automotive plastics. Now, that the markets in Europe and the US are largely saturated, attention is turning to the BRIC countries. “Our culture of innovation will reap benefits in China, India, Russia and Brazil,” claimed Breuers.

“Our culture of innovation will reap benefits in China, India, Russia and Brazil” – Lanxess Executive Board member Dr. Werner Breuers (here with Gunter Weymans, haed of Technical Rubber Products).
“Our culture of innovation will reap benefits in China, India, Russia and Brazil” – Lanxess Executive Board member Dr. Werner Breuers (here with Gunter Weymans, haed of Technical Rubber Products).
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The company opened a butyl rubber plant with a capacity of 100,000 MT/a in Singapore a few months ago. The automotive industry is also driving the demand for lightweight thermoplastics such as Durethan and Pocan. The first front end carrier made of polyamide 6 and a polyamide brake pedal reinforced with continuous filament glass fiber are two products from the world of mobility at the Lanxess booth.

Opportunity or Risk? Where is the Plastics Industry Heading?

Is the rubber road the route to success? Self-confidence and a positive image permeate the show. You could get the impression that there are no clouds on the horizon for the plastics industry. Nevertheless, the economic crisis has left its mark: Europe remains a source of uncertainty and China is unable to its maintain double-digit growth. Stricter regulations along with customs duties and wage increases offset the cost benefits of producing in Asia.

Some companies are already heading back home. Lower energy and raw material costs from the gas bonanza are attracting firms back to the US. Reshoring is gathering momentum: David Sievers, head of Strategy and Operations Practice at the Hackett Group, reports that China’s cost advantage is now only 16 %, saying that whether production in the country is worthwhile becomes “purely a matter of chance”.

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