Covestro, one of the world’s leading polymer providers, has announced the completion of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) capacity expansion at its Changhua manufacturing site in Taiwan. This comes after the successful expansion in New Martinsville in the US and the takeover of the majority of the Japan Joint Venture, all happening within 12 months. With the expansion, the site’s production capacity increased by 30%, an important step to benefit from the growing demands in the APAC region. TPU is a highly versatile elastomer that offers both superior performance as well as flexibility. It has various applications from footwear, automotive all the way to IT. Changhua site’s proximity to ASEAN is also an advantage as it gives Covestro the upper hand, especially in industries such as footwear.
The global TPU market is expected to grow at 6% in the forecast period 2017 to 2022, and the majority of such growth will come from the APAC region. “One of our strategies is to participate in this growth with our capacity expansion,” said Dr. Stephan Ehlers, Head of TPU Production & Technology. “It will allow us to better serve our customers, meet the rising market demands and also sustain our strong presence in the APAC region.”
“The Changhua site is Covestro’s largest TPU production site in Asia, supported by Covestro’s APAC TPU Research and Development Center,” said Dr. 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.”
Excellent properties for different product variants
TPU has several outstanding properties, including light weight, comfortability, high abrasion resistance, high shear strength, high elasticity, recyclability and resistance to oil and grease. These qualities therefore make it a sensible and appealing replacement for certain material solutions, which in turn further boosts its market demand.
For instance, in the footwear sector, TPU can be used for several parts, such as uppers, shanks, insole, midsole, outsole, heel cups as well as logo 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 has taken a further step forward to develop this unique, innovative TPU fiber 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. “We look forward to best utilizing and showcasing Taiwan’s innovation potential to further create synergy and in return, create product that push the boundaries of technology,” said Michael Lee, Managing Director of Covestro Taiwan.
With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2018.
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