Freudenberg Performance Materials made its public debut last week at the Techtextil 2015 trade show in Frankfurt, Germany. The company exhibited at the event under the motto “Innovative. Global. Sustainable.” At the show, recent investments, sustainable solutions and medical technology were among key topics at a press conference held by the nonwovens producer.
Freudenberg President and CEO Bruce Olson led the discussion, describing the differences between the new Freudenberg Performance Materials and the former groups. One the one hand, he says, they are a very young company—due to its January launch—but at the same time, the company is looking back on “a long and successful history” developed by the previous groups. “Together, we believe we are headed to an even brighter and more successful future,” Olson says.
The groups will continue to be driven by the same set of values and guiding principles, he explains, and while nonwovens is a core technology platform for the company, the creation of Freudenberg Performance Materials will strengthen nonwovens further as a core technology platform.
“But our vision does not stop there,” he continues. “The name Performance Materials stands for more than just the name of a new business group. It represents a new strategic orientation and a mandate from our shareholders, and hopefully from our customers, to look beyond nonwovens in providing customers with solutions they need to remain successful and profitable.”
On the same day Freudenberg Performance Materials began operations, it also acquired 100% ownership of Polymer Health Technology, Wales, U.K., a leading supplier of polyurethane foams for advanced wound care applications, Olson says. Following that purchase, Freudenberg invested in a new state-of-the-art line at the Freudenberg Vilene facility, a 50-50 joint venture with Japan Vilene, in Suzhou, China, to continue the development of its automotive interiors business in China and Southeast Asia, where the automotive market is growing. The line will produce high quality printed and non-printed nonwoven facing material for automotive headliners and is set to open in summer 2016.
Following Olson’s remarks, Gerhard Schöpping, director of global innovation and technology for Freudenberg Performance Materials, continued the presser with brief remarks on innovation, sustainability and performance. To add to Olson’s comments about the new company, Schöpping says, “The name says it all. We talk about the performance of our materials.”
Schöpping highlighted some of the company’s high-performing materials, and specifically called out its new Airliner technology, a membrane alternative for the shoes. “You know the so-called SAP functions from the hygiene business...we have also developed our new products to coat our nonwovens with these super absorbent functions in a direct way. And we use that, for example, for a product that we call Airliner,” he says. This technology can also be used for other applications.
Finally, Marcus Simon, who is in charge of Freudenberg’s European medical business, discussed the company’s innovative solutions in the medical sector with a focus on advanced wound care and hydroactive nonwovens. Freudenberg Performance Materials’ comprehensive portfolio for advanced wound care is now complemented by the aforementioned hydrophilic foam solutions attained as part of the Polymer Health Technology acquisition, and Simon says new methods and ideas are continuing to be explored and introduced into the medical field for nonwovens.
Simon explains that medical is one of the strategic businesses of Freudenberg, and it appears that the new Freudenberg will continue to significantly grow and innovate in this market.