Describe what characterizes your business area.
The development and production of polymer-coated fabrics requires expertise and applications know-how in polymer engineering. From these polymer-coated fabrics, we make blankets for all types of printing and our fabrics form part of a large number of products, from medical technology equipment to train bellows. A common feature of our offerings is their high technological content and the critical role they have in overall solution.
With the acquisition of the U.S. coated fabrics operations in 2014, our relative distribution of sales between printing blanket solutions and coated fabrics has changed in favor of the latter. Our focus has also shifted from Europe to North and South America. In relative terms, we are also allocating more resources to sales and R&D than we did a few years ago.
Name a technological highlight of the year.
There are numerous development projects ongoing in the business area, but one highlight I would like to mention is our successful deployment of fabrics joined using a drop-stitch technique and subsequently rubber-coated. The technique enables the product to be inflated – similar to an air mattress. There are several areas of application, but the product comes into its own when used in the bottom structure of a boat or raft.
What will be the key development areas in the years ahead?
Despite our presence in a large number of niches, development and expansion potential exists in other segments, niches and geographies – particularly for our polyurethane-coated fabrics. Packaging, and therefore printing blankets for packaging, represent an area in which we are growing. We are also continuing to review our distribution network and are examining closely related technologies.
The global megatrends are encouraging. For example, the aerospace industry is demanding lighter aircraft fleets and enhanced safety, which are trends that fit our already strong position in the sector.