PU Expansions: Covestro expands TPU plant in Taiwan; BASF/Shanhu to develop low emission PU system products

Covestro expands TPU plant in Taiwan

With the global thermoplastics polyurethane (TPU) market expected to grow at 6% between 2017 and 2022, and the majority of such growth to come from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, German materials supplier Covestro has completed a capacity expansion for TPU at its Changhua manufacturing site in Taiwan by 30%. This comes after an expansion in New Martinsville in the US and the takeover of the majority (80%) of its Japanese joint venture with DIC, over the last 12 months.

“The Changhua site is Covestro’s largest TPU production site in Asia, supported by Covestro’s APAC TPU Research and Development Center,” said Thomas Roemer, Global Head of Thermoplastic Polyurethanes. “With the capacity expansion, we will cater to the market’s needs in APAC with diverse and innovative products, such as bio-based TPU.”

TPU has several outstanding properties, including lightweight, comfortability, high abrasion resistance, high shear strength, high elasticity, recyclability and resistance to oil and grease. For instance, in the footwear sector, TPU can be used for several parts, such as uppers, shanks, insole, midsoles, outsoles, heel cups as well as logos on shoes. Knitting technology is increasingly being adapted for the uppers on sports shoes – a single knitting process allows a stylish design while saving material use per pair of shoes. To catch up with this trend, Covestro says it has taken a further step forward to develop this unique, TPU fibre that can be seamlessly integrated into the state-of-the-art knitting technology for footwear applications.

Covestro has had roots in Taiwan for decades and serves as one of the most important innovation partners for the IT and shoe industries. Meanwhile, with more and more footwear supply chains moving to ASEAN, Taiwan now has the advantage of being close to these nations.

BASF/Shanhu to develop low emission PU system products

Meanwhile, in other news, compatriot German materials supplier BASF and automotive parts manufacturer Liyang Shanhu Industry Auto Trim Material Co., have entered into a strategic cooperation agreement to develop lightweight and low-emission polyurethane (PU) system product applications.

“There is an increasing demand in China for composite products that make automotive parts lighter for fuel efficiency, and with lower emissions and odour for better interior car air quality. Together with Shanhu Industry, we will meet this market need,” said Desmond Long, Vice President, Business Management Transportation, Performance Materials Asia Pacific, BASF.

Under the agreement, BASF will provide material and technical expertise in the development of innovative product applications by Shanhu Industry.

“We have had great success with BASF in developing the paper honeycomb trunk floor business in the last decade. We are delighted to continue working with BASF, to explore new PU system product applications for the automotive industry. These include new reinforced polyurethane composites, sound absorbing and low volatile organic compounds (VOC), low odour ceiling polyurethane foam, sound absorbing lightweight foam, paper honeycomb composites, and new skin materials,” said Li Tiansheng, Chairman, Shanhu Industry.

As a leading producer of automotive parts, Shanhu Industry has been partnering with BASF since 2008 on the development of PU materials for the automotive industry. As part of the cooperation agreement, the two parties will also jointly promote the use of PU systems in automotive product applications.


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