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Industrieverband Klebstoffe e.V.

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Economic Report on German Adhesives Industry: Growth continues

In the financial year 2017 the German Adhesives Industry recorded an increase in sales of 2.7 percent (forecast: 2 percent) and thus achieved total sales of 3.85 billion euros. The outlook is positive. For the financial year 2018, the industry expects a nominal increase in sales of up to 3 percent. The main growth driver is the upturn in the global economy.

"Despite numerous unpredictable factors, the German Adhesives Industry was able to continue its growth course in 2017 and increased sales by 2.7 percent," said Dr. Boris Tasche, Chairman of the Management Board of the German Adhesives Association (IVK - Industrieverband Klebstoffe). In all key market segments, Boris Tasche continued, the development was satisfactory - both in Germany and internationally. Despite economic and geo-political risk factors, a consolidated global upswing with GDP-increases of 2.2 percent in mature markets and 4.3 percent in emerging markets was evident.

Boris Tasche: "The Industrial Production Index (IPX) forecasts solid growth of 1.7 percent for the German market and 3.2 percent globally. The positive development in the domestic market is based on a good export situation, a sustained upturn in the construction industry as well as on increased demand and investments in mechanical engineering".

Key markets
Vehicle manufacturing, paper & packaging, wood & furniture, electronics and construction sectors are among the most important sales-markets for adhesives. In 2017, sales increased satisfactorily in all sectors. Another market of high economic and global importance for the German Adhesives Industry is the electronics-market. Adhesives are used here to manufacture smartphones, tablet computers, displays, as well as optical lenses and sensors. Growth in this segment amounted to 4.8 percent.

Growth forecast for 2018
The German Adhesives Industry expects economic development to continue in the current fiscal year. "Despite a multitude of risk factors, the global economy is on a robust growth course," explained Ansgar van Halteren, Managing Director of IVK, and he forecasts: "We expect nominal sales growth of at least 3 percent and anticipate total sales for the German Adhesives Industry of approx. 4 billion euros."

IVK sees challenges and risks weakening the economy in the availability of important adhesive raw materials, possible trade embargos, exchange rate effects, a shortage of skilled workers and insufficient transport capacities.

Adhesive key market segment "Wood & Furniture Industry”
Although the German furniture industry contracted slightly by 0.6 percent in 2017, growth in dispersion adhesives (wood glues) and stable sales of hot melt adhesives in the same period led to a 2 percent increase in sales in the German wood adhesives industry.

Within the "Wood adhesives", the product group "PVAc adhesives" (wood glues) achieved an increase of 3.2 percent. While sales of "hot melt adhesives" remained stable, "foil-adhesives" recorded a minus of 6.2 percent.

High-performance adhesives play a decisive role in the rational production of quality furniture with individual designs. The variety of carrier and surface materials used in furniture construction today and the resulting combination possibilities mean that adhesive systems with a broad adhesion spectrum are increasingly being used, which at the same time meet the constantly increasing quality demands of furniture manufacturers, e.g. with respect to the appearance and ageing resistance of the adhesive. In addition to the required technical performance of the adhesives, high product safety and the constant improvement of environmental protection and occupational safety as well as consumer safety are always at the forefront in terms of sustainable development. Today, high-performance products based on renewable raw materials as well as low-emission adhesive systems are available for the furniture industry.

Adhesives & Adhesive-Bonding - now properly defined & described online on Wikipedia

Experts from the German Adhesives Industry have substantially revised the German-language Wikipedia entries on adhesives & adhesive-bonding. This project was initiated and co-ordinated by IVK - the German Adhesives Association.

Over the past 17 years, Wikipedia has become one of the world's most important online information services, with several million users accessing this free ecyclopedia every day - and with a significant upward trend.

In this context it is important for both, the users and the industry that the information provided by Wikipedia is content-wise and technically correct and therefore reliable.

In the past, this has not always been the case - at least with respect to the German-language Wikipedia entries on adhesives and adhesive-bonding.

Therefore, IVK-experts took the initiative to substantially revise the entries on adhesives & adhesive-bonding on the German version of Wikipedia - thus, now providing correct and reliable information.

IVK seea an urgent need to also revise the other language editions of Wikipedia with respect to the entries on adhesives & adhesive-bonding.

According to Ansgar van Halteren, CEO & Executive Board Member of IVK, there are considerable differences in the content and sometimes also serious & misleading errors in the definition and description of adhesives & adhesive-bonding in the various language editions Wikipedia, that urgently need to be harmonized.

National and European legislators are also increasingly using Wikipedia to obtain background information. However, it is an absurdity for different European parlimentarians to receive different information on the same topic in their respective mother tongues.

The European adhesives industry would be well adviesed to initiate the necessary harmonization process - ideally also globally - in a timely manner.


New European Standardization Project on Determination of excessive Humidity in Subfloors successfully launched

IVK-experts in the field of flooring & parquet-flooring adhesives have successfully launched a new European standardization project at CEN/TC 193 "Adhesives" which aims at to develop a test method for the determination of excessive humidity in subfloors.

The test method will allow an easy assessment of the dryness of any kind of subfloor prior to the installation of floor-coverings or parquet-floors bonded with adhesives. The method will be independent from the subfloors' chemical compositions or materials and applicable with commonly available equipment.

The excess of humidity in a subfloor os a very common problem in construction which may cause a saponification of the adhesive used for the instalation of floor-coverings - resulting in a weakening of the bond strengh, and it may trigger VOC emissions & bad odor.

The new developed test method will enable a floor-technician to determine the appropriate time for the application of an adhesive - thus, avoiding saponification, loss in bond strengh, VOC emissions, or disturbing odors. As this test method will be independent of the subfloor material it will not measure a subfloor characteristic, but a subfloor condition.

This project is another valuable contribution of the German Adhesives Industry - giving support to make bonding in the field of flooring & parquet-flooring installations even safer, and thus, avoiding costly complaints. German floor- & parquet-flooring installers welcome and fully support this initiative of the adhesives industry in terms of a confidence-building measure along the value chain.


Adhesives Industry in the Cost Trap

Significant price increases for basic chemicals and intermediates, limited availability and a strong global demand make adhesive raw materials significantly more expensive. In addition, steadily raising regulatory costs and the shortage of freight capacities are leading to noticeable additional burdens on the cost structure of German adhesive manufacturers. 

Düsseldorf - Since the beginnig of 2016, the adhesives industry has been concerned about significant price increases for basic chemicals and intermediates, which are the chemical basis for a large number of key adhesive raw materials.

The contract price for ethylene in Europe has risen by about 40% in the past 24 months, the price of propylene even by 70%. Butadiene, for which the price has almost doubled, and styrene (+ 30%) belong to the category of so-called "volatile commodities"; their price levels in Europe are strongly dependent on the global supply and demand structure.

Already since mid-2016, these additional costs for basic chemicals have had an impact on the prices for intermediates and specialty chemicals that have noticeably risen.

For Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM), the main raw material for aqueous dispersion adhesives, as well as for so-calles EVA polymers, the adhesives industry has seen price increases of 40% since the end of 2016. The reason for this is a strained, import-dependent supply situation due to a strong and continuing demand, especially from the Asian and US markets.

The landed costs for the typical raw materials for the production of thermoplastic hot-melt adhesives - EVA polymers, polyolefines, resins and waxes - have also increased significantly over the same period in line with the aforementioned cost development of raw materials.

The limited availability of polyesters and isocyanates has a drastic effect; they are the main components of polyurethane hot-melt adhesives. The price increases for isocyanates have been up to 70% over the past two years. Due to several Force Majeur declarations from various manufacturers in 2017, the availability in the world market is still limited and the adhesives industry is faced with significantly higher raw material costs. Due to the very high proportion of isocyanates in the formulation of PUR adhesives, the production costs of these products are particularly affected.

The continuing limited availability of raw materials, combined with an enduring strong global demand for basic chemicals and specialty chemicals from which adhesives are made, ultimately leads to further additional burdens on the formulation- and production cost structure of German adhesive manufacturers.

In addition, the entire chemicals industry, which includes the adhesives industry, is confronted with a multitude of national and European laws and regulations (Renewable Energy Sources Act, Federal Immission Control Act, REACh, CLP, EU-Biocide Regulation, etc.) which create significant administrative overheads throughout the value chain.

Another particular challenge at present is the scarcity of freight capacities in Europe, which is directly attributable to the growing shortage of qualified driving personnel, and which has made transport significantly more expensive.


Adhesive Applications designed for Recycling

European Paper Recycling Council moves forward  on eco-design of printed paper products

In March 2018 an update has been made to the European Paper Recycling Council's (EPRC) "Assessment of Printed Product Recyclability". This Scorecard for the Removability of Adhesive Applications now includes an annex for applications where there is sufficient experience and confidence that they will deliver good results on removability. Non-water-soluble or non-redispersible hot melt adhesives are now exempted from testing under certain conditions. If an adhesive application does not conform to with the conditions in this annex, no conclusion can be made about its removability.

The update of the scorecard is based on new scientific insights resulting from a joint research project which was initiated by experts from IVK in co-operation with INGEDE (International Association of the Deinking Industry) and the University of Darmstadt. In this project it was scientifically proven that the softening point, the thickness of application and the geometry of an adhesive seam of non-water-soluble / non-redispersible hot melt adhesives have a decisive influence on the removability of these adhesives in the paper recycling process.

IVK and EPCR consider this a step forward towards improving eco-design, prolonging the recycling loop for printed graphic paper.

The updated scorecard can be found here.


Ansgar van Halteren joins the Board of Trustees of IFAM

Ansgar van Halteren - CEO and IVK Executive Board Member - has recently been appointed as member of the Board of Trustees of the Fraunhofer Institute IFAM.

With 5 locations and more than 600 employees the Fraunhofer IFAM is one of the most important research institutions in the field of adhesive bonding technology, surfaces, shaping and functional materials in Europe. Scientific excellence, a clear focus on the application of technology, measurable utility for customers, and always ensuring the highest quality built the fundament of IFAM's strong position in the research market - and thus, the basis for future-forward developments, for the benefit of the society.

60 years old van Halteren started his professional career in the adhesives world back in 1983. He was appointed as IVK's Senior Executive in 1992 and Executive Board Member in 2002. Until to date, van Halteren signs responsible for the operations of the world's largest national adhesives organisation - actually representing 137 companies and a domestic industry turnover of more than 3.8 billion Euros/year.


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