GUANGZHOU, CHINA — At the Chinaplas Design Forum held in Guangzhou in May, BASF SE highlighted a new trend coming out of its Performance Materials division.
Several of the products BASF showed off used materials originally developed for a different industry. When the strategy works, project time can be sped up and BASF can save on R&D costs.
“Now we are structured different,” said Martin Baumert, head of new market development of BASF SouthEast Asia, speaking about the impact of a restructuring in the company last year that resulted in the creation of the Performance Materials division.
“One unit is Raw Materials and another is Performance Materials. Now we're taking more products and having one face to the customer,” he said.
Plastics have played a big role in this strategy.
“When it comes to design freedom, plastics are often the solution,” said Andy Postlethwaite, BASF's senior vice president for Performance Materials Asia-Pacific. “Plastics are often stronger and lighter than steel and more attractive and colorful than wood.”
“It was a very conscious decision,” Baumert added. “The reason is that we want to innovate by combining different products.”
BASF showcased several products at the Design Forum that utilized their new approach to design. The products ranged from shoes to window profiles to bike tires.
“One way of innovating is to take one product that is a proven application in one area and then transpose to another area,” Baumert said.
One example: the Puma Ignite running shoe, which used high-performance Elastopan and Cellasto materials for the sole.