Michael Nölle, managing director at Seelbach, Germany-based decorative film and molder New Albea Kunststofftechnik GmbH, said the company expected to achieve annual sales of 14 million euros in 2019.
But with the automotive industry counting for a 70 percent share of the business, Nölle added: "No one knows what the turnover in 2020 is likely to be; it is too uncertain."
Long-term projects, such as a large order for development and supply of heating modules for de-icing radar units on BMW cars will only start to come to fruition as from 2021, Nölle said.
As a company that separated from Baldea, after that company suffered from a dramatic decline in molding for cellphones, New Albea is now owned and managed by Johannes Pollaert, who intends to keep the company in private hands, having starting to involve his daughter Meijke in the business in early 2018.
Today, the so-called "info com" area at New Albea has nothing to do with cellphones, but conventional telephone equipment, where in-mold labeling competence is exploited. With a 15 percent share of overall business, it remains much smaller than the automotive business.
The household goods and others area includes decorative controls for small household appliances such as coffee machines, and switches for buildings, industrial or domestic are becoming more important as they become more sophisticated and aesthetic.
A typical reference application in this area is high-gloss decoration for Bosch coffee machine control panels, as was displayed at the booth, as was an impressive haptic feedback automotive central console unit, where the New Albea involvement is in the decoration, not in the haptic feedback electronics and components. The company is also working on a new central console, with details not yet available, as it is at the stage of patent applications.
The company is also involved with Miele coffee machine and the Tassimo-brand coffee machine decoration. In this type of area, screen printing, among others of capacitive elements on film, is an interesting area for the company that it wants to increase.
He said that there will still be some "classic" switches on future car models — for example, on steering wheels — despite a shift to screen-based touch controls.
Nölle said: "We are really a film specialist, as this area accounts for 40 percent of our business, aside from using our own decorated films and external ones to mold decorated parts within our machine park of 25 injection molding machines."
The molding machines come from two suppliers who were discretely described by Nölle as "one in the Black Forest [Arburg], the other one further south (and East), [namely Engel]." Mold tools are supplied by a company within the group, Lahr, Germany-based Polarform Werkzeugbau GmbH.
New Albea has developed large-area heating solutions beyond the external radar area into automotive interiors. These become increasingly important as electric drive cars become more widely adopted, by choice or compulsion. This is because electric motors develop practically no heat, so a fast electrical means is needed, close to the passengers in the vehicle.
Nölle said the idea for becoming involved in large-area heating developed from work with heating wires applied to radomes used in driver-assistance systems, leading to a patented solution here that protects the contacts from corrosion. Its technology involves heating wires that are "thinner than a human hair" embedded in 3D-contoured film and backmolded to polycarbonate.
There are several medical projects at New Albea, but Nölle says this is an area the company wants to expand, by serving equipment producers, without needing to invest in clean room molding facilities.