Friedrichshafen, Germany — As the only maker of polyetherethe ketone in Europe, Victrex plc is closely following Brexit, the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union set for March 29.
The Lancashire, England-based specialty chemical company has set up a Brexit steering team to assess all the risks and opportunities associated with the exit, according to CEO Jakob Sigurdsson.
"Like many U.K.-based export companies, the key challenge we have identified is around the distribution of goods through ports into Europe," he said in an interview at Fakuma 2018.
Victrex already has subsidiary companies in Europe, including Victrex Europa GmbH, and it is securing additional warehousing in Europe to hold a higher level of stock, should there be a need.
At Fakuma, the company is showcasing new grades for food contact, as well as a novel solution for electric motors and gears for electric vehicles.
The company is also presenting its 150-micron PEEK polymer-based Aptiv film as an alternative for slot liner insulators in thermal management of electric motors, which are increasingly used with the rise of e-mobility.
Victrex has carried out simulations for replacing a 250-micron meta-aramid-PET-laminate slot liner material with Aptiv film and the results indicated that the film, which is 40 percent thinner, could improve heat flow in permanent magnet synchronous machine (PMSM) motors.
Since PMSM is designed to cut off at temperatures that threaten to damage its internal insulation, thermal management is a crucial performance factor for motors in electric vehicles.
Furthermore, Victrex is displaying polyaryletherketone-based composites for the aerospace industry as well as other materials for household appliances during the Fakuma show.
According to Sigurdsson, Victrex sees growth potential in all of its markets, which include automotive, medical, electronics and food and beverage.
"With our new food-grade product portfolio, we see increasing potential, with the food-processing market growing at around twice as much as industrial growth," he said.
In the automotive industry, Victrex is aiming to grow the PEEK content per car from 8 grams to 12 grams in coming years, with a long-term potential for more than 100 grams in electric vehicles.
Applications for PEEK currently include braking systems, and recently developed PEEK gears have just hit the road. With growing demand for EVs, the company is focusing on electrical insulation.