By Liz White, UTI editor
Maastricht, The Netherlands - The polyurethanes industry is back on track as a highly technical, innovative sector, which has strong growth prospects as a result of its versatility and ability to offer solutions to customer problems.
That was the message coming from many exhibitors at the UTECH Europe 2012 event, held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, 17-19 April.
"It's a wonderful material," and there is "always excitement to see what you can make with it," with strong prospects for rigid PU insulation as world demand for cutting energy use gets more and more crucial, Uwe Hartwig, senior vice president for BASF Polyurethanes told UTI, in an interview at the meeting.
"I'm a strong believer that the future for PU is bright," as a result of its innovative and versatile nature, its solution providing ability. "You can make things happen with urethanes … If you have a problem, I can make the solution with PU," Hartwig said.
At Evonik Industries, Tammo Boinowitz, senior vice-president for the comfort and insulation business, said this ability to provide tailor-made solutions, via the customer performing the chemistry on his production line, is a unique factors contributing to PU's versatility. And Boinowitz sees a positive future for urethanes, with many new ideas developing along the value chain at any one time.
This year's conference and exhibition was "the best UTECH ever, according to Max Taverna, of Italian polyurethane processing equipment expert Cannon SpA. The company was so busy, it had to order more tables for its stand to accommodate them, and other companies were happy to have the same difficulties.
For example, cast elastomer systems and machinery expert Baule, of Romans, France, experienced crowds of customers, with many visitors descending on its stand on the second day, according to PhIllippe Jeantin, general manager of the group, now fully owned by Bayer MaterialScience.
Catalyst and surfactant supplier Momentive Performance Materials was alsohaving "a good show, with its largest booth ever," Tony Lanchak, head of the urethane additives division, told UTI on the second day. Visitors to Momentive's two tier stand came from a wide cross-section geographically he said, across West and East Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and more, he added
Most exhibitors, such as Peter Huo, global marketing director of Yantai Wanhua Polyurethane Co Ltd, felt that the audience was a much bigger one than three years ago, when the UTECH event coincided with the drastic economic downturn.
UTECH Europe was "extraordinarily good," for Polish polyols supplier PCC Rokita, commented Charles Ritchie, managing director -- who was too busy to eat lunch on all three days. He also said he felt the event had drawn in more overseas visitors.
Organiser Crain Communications Ltd, publisher of Urethanes Technology International, has not yet released final figures for attendance at UTECH Europe 2012, but said the total visitor numbers for the first two days were likely to be nearly a third higher than the total for all three days in 2009, and 5 percent higher than the total attendance in 2006.