Polyplastics Co. Ltd. of Tokyo makes a wide range of engineering resins. The firm's materials portfolio includes acetal (POM), polybutylene terephthalate, fiber-reinforced PET, liquid crystal polymer, polyphenylene sulfide and cyclic olefin copolymer.
In 2018, Polyplastics posted sales of more than $1.3 billion. The firm employs 2,100 worldwide.
Plastics News recently caught up with Gregor Bommel, managing director of Polyplastics Europe GmbH, to get caught up on issues facing the industry.
Q: What type of growth is your firm seeing in its plastics business this year? Which end markets are performing best?
Bommel: The segments related to next-generation mobility, 5G technology and environmental issues like waste reduction, while still keeping functionality, are some of the key global trends impacting the market.
Q: Where is your emphasis on new products via research and development now?
Bommel: Based on the global trends, we focus our development efforts on the following products: products which are suitable for parts in the sensor, camera for ADAS [advanced driving systems], parts with high-voltage resistance in connectors and lightweight parts for automotive.
Products which are suitable for devices responding to high frequencies of 5G.
And products which are suitable for environmental load-reduction such as green materials for automotive interior parts and monomaterial packaging materials, enabling homogeneous recycling streams.
Q: How are global economic conditions affecting your plastics business? Is the firm concerned about a possible global recession?
Bommel: The uncertainty over future economic prospects in the market due to the trade-friction issues between U.S. and China — and now most recently also with the EU — has and will have a negative impact on our engineering plastics business. Our customers and markets are also expected to be dealing with weakening growth accordingly.
Q: How is your firm working to meet its own sustainability goals or those of its customers?
Bommel: Under the Group CSR policy, Polyplastics Group has developed and released eco-friendly grades such as a low-VOC grade of POM (acetal) resin on the market as CSR activities. We're still developing those products aiming for more sustainability, e.g., enabling mono materialization in packaging applications.
Q: What are your firm's expectations for the plastics market in 2020 and beyond?
Bommel: The uncertainty in the market might continue, but the segments related to next-generation mobility, 5G technology and environmental load-reduction are expected to be the big market drivers. We provide the values which only our engineering plastics can achieve in such new market segments and aim to contribute to society by providing innovative solutions that meet our customers' needs.