It’s not only a phenomenon of Western countries, but also of developing economies: large parts of the populace are becoming wealthier and more demanding. Not only do people expect new and modern products to take the hassle out of their everyday lives, they should also be stylish. High-tech plastics are playing an increasing part in meeting that expectation.
An exciting car, the latest smartphone, a better refrigerator: it’s what everyone wants. Consumer goods that are practical, smart, sustainable and positively cool.
This is especially true of the automotive industry. With many hours spent on the road, drivers want to be cossetted by a stylish and cosy environment within their vehicles.
Soft-touch coatings made with materials from Covestro make for attractive, scratchproof, and chemical-resistant items such as handles, fittings and switches. Polyurethane foams which are tough, flexible and readily formable, help insulate against noise, and can be integrated with electronic appliances as well as making car seats softer and more flexible.
An even more fashionable point is made by the ultra-thin polycarbonate-based films used to cover multi-functional instrument panels with their displays hidden behind a matte black surface, until activated, giving a feeling of clarity and elegance.
In another area, electronic technology is becoming sleek, compact and far better designed, thanks to the versatility of materials such as polycarbonate, which offer a high level of design freedom. It means for instance, that smart phones and tablets have casings which are curved and colorful as well as being flame retardant and highly robust.
Attractive and sustainable fashion
In other industries, Covestro provides raw materials which significantly increase the quality and longevity of leisure products, for instance – helping to make clothing more durable, resistant to high temperature fluctuations, breathable, flexible and soft.
A recent innovation is INSQIN®, a sustainable technology for the fashion industry. Not only can fabric be turned into clothing with unique feel and textures, it is made in a more environmentally friendly way, and has up to 65 percent renewable content.
In the sports sector, clothing and footwear based on innovative materials from Covestro offer athletes superior comfort and high functionality. The company also has extensive experience in material development for soccer balls. One example is Brazuca, the official match ball of the World Cup in 2014. Its cover is made of five polyurethane layers that make the surface durable and elastic and cause the ball to return to its original shape after a kick.
There are also the polyurethane soft foams – based on components developed and produced by Covestro – which go into upholstered furniture and mattresses offering comfort and attractive designs around our homes. Among the latest developments is a technology allowing production of such foams partly with carbon dioxide, thus replacing crude oil, the traditional raw material.