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China's Shide Group, BASF unveil 'revolutionary' all-plastic window profile

By: Steve Toloken

April 23, 2014

SHANGHAI — The PVC window profile market in Asia is expected to increase four-fold by 2025, and Chinese building products maker Dalian Shide Group Co. Ltd. hopes to take a bigger slice of that as a result of a new partnership with German chemicals giant BASF SE.

Shide and BASF used the opening day of the Chinaplas trade show to announce that they’ve developed an all-plastic window profile, the world’s first made from PVC and polybutylene terephthalate resins, to try to replace the steel-reinforced PVC windows common today.

Shide, one of China’s largest plastic building products firms, said the new design is the result of a six-year research partnership with BASF. The German company developed a new grade of PBT with a melting point close to PVC, and Shide developed new extrusion technology to make the window profiles.

At a Shanghai news conference with senior BASF engineering plastics executives, Dalian Shide Chairman Xu Bin said that while it’s difficult to predict how the market will react, his company has high expectations.

“I think this product is a revolution to the whole industry so therefore the prospects are very broad,” Xu said. “We are actually doing marketing planning and I think for the whole industry, this product will play a very good role and will occupy a very big market share.”

“Based on the research and the feedback we have, it will occupy a pretty big percentage,” Xu said. “I think 10-20 percent would not be a problem.”

For BASF, it’s the first engineering plastics product to come from the labs at its new $55 million innovation center in Shanghai, which opened in 2012, said Andy Postlethwaite, BASF senior vice president of performance materials for Asia Pacific.

The two companies said it’s the world’s first coextruded PVC and PBT window profile, and claimed it has a number of advantages over traditional PVC window profiles reinforced with steel to add strength.

The new grade of BASF’s Ultradur PBT has a low melting point close enough to PVC that the materials can be extruded in a single step.

The new design is at least 15-20 percent more energy efficient compared with a standard PVC window reinforced with steel or an all-aluminum profile.

Xu said Shide Group does not need significant investments in capacity initially for the PVC/PBT windows, because its existing extrusion lines can be used with minor modifications.

But he said the company, which has eight factories and 700,000 metric tons of annual capacity in China, will invest whatever is needed to meet demand.

BASF said Asia’s market for PVC window profiles is expected to grow from 4 million metric tons this year to more than 18 million by 2025, driven by urbanization and more stringent thermal insulation requirements in building codes. At that point, the PVC profiles market in Asia would be equal to the Americas and Europe put together, BASF said.

The two companies began working together on the project in 2008, and had many hurdles to overcome in mold design and the coextrusion process, said Shide executive Yang Bao Shan.

“We have overcome a lot of difficulties in the research and development,” Yang said. “At one point, we thought we could not continue.”

BASF can sell the material in other applications, but Shide controls the technology to manufacture the PVC/PBT window profile. Xu said Shide Group would be willing to license the profile technology if it would help develop the market.

Shide Group plans to launch the windows on the market in July. The two companies said they plan to put both BASF and Shide logos on the product.