As manufacturers strive to update their businesses for Industry 4.0 and meet customer demands for mass customisation of products, they face the complex task of converting large scale, often manual, production processes into automated digital systems. Today Covestro, a leading player in industrial coatings and adhesive raw materials, and TTP, a technology company with expertise in digital printing, announce a development milestone in digital coating and adhesive technology that has the potential to enable this transition – the successful digital printing of polyurethane adhesives.

The partnership of TTP’s new and revolutionary technology for the rapid digital application of coatings and adhesives, with Covestro’s tailored polyurethane raw materials has demonstrated a new opportunity for digital printing in next generation manufacturing. “We recently successfully tested adhesives formulated with Covestro raw materials,” said Dr. Andrew Baker-Campbell, Project Leader at TTP“demonstrating a capability to print materials far more challenging than typical jettable inks.”

To exploit the development, Covestro has established its own laboratory for digital printing. “This variant of inkjet printing could become an entirely new production method within the context of Industry 4.0,” said Dr. Jörg Tillack, who heads 2D printing development at Covestro’s Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties Business Unit. “The positive test result takes us an important step forward.”

Market opportunity
The EUR 5 billion industrial inkjet industry(1) now has the opportunity to penetrate the industrial coatings and adhesives market valued at over EUR 100 billion(2). To understand the opportunity for digital technology, Covestro carried out a survey of over a 100 respondents in the coatings and adhesives industry. The majority of the respondents to Covestro’s survey – 93 percent – believe that digital printing will create additional value for their business, and 50 percent of machinery providers surveyed have customers asking for digital printing solutions today.

From its long-term experience, Covestro well understands the practical challenges facing any industrial coating or adhesive technology. The demands far exceed decoration: Durability and resistance to a number of environmental factors as well as adhesion and bond strength are all added challenges to overcome. This often results in fluids with properties incompatible with industrial inkjet, such as high viscosity, or large particulates. That is why the vast majority of coatings and adhesives are still using semi-automated or even manual application technologies such as spraying or even brushing. Covestro and the British technology development consultancy The Technology Partnership (TTP) are collaborating on material systems and digital printing technologies to address these challenges and unlock this opportunity.

Partnership approach
To encourage wide adoption of the technology, Covestro and TTP are now seeking partners throughout the value chain. Covestro and TTP would like to hear from interested end-users with a desire to develop concepts for next-generation products and processes. Furthermore, they are looking for manufacturers of print heads, printers and automation systems who wish to invest in delivering this technology to market. Enquiries from developers of coatings, adhesives and inks who want to add value to their products are also welcome.

Adam Salmen of Covestro and James McCrone of TTP will talk about the new digital printing technology for industrial quality coatings and adhesives and its potential at the IMI European Ink Jet Conference in Amsterdam from December 2–4, 2015.

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Make an appointment with the following contacts:

Adam Salmen
Marketing Manager for Digital Printing
Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties Business Unit
Tel.: +49 214 6009 5727
Email: [email protected] 

James McCrone
Group Leader for Applied Sciences
Tel.: +44 1763 262626
Email: [email protected]

About Covestro:
With 2014 sales of EUR 11.8 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, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and as of September 2015 employed approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents).

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