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Super 'glue' to bolster urbanization

When it comes to adhesives, most people normally take them as the “glue” applied in industrial areas. Nowadays apart from sticking components together, they are conferred functions such as dampening noise, eliminating vibration and reducing pollution, which producers see as properties required by new trends of urbanization.

German adhesive producer Henkel AG analyzed that environmental protection and personalized lifestyle are the upcoming trends of urbanization, which adhesives are to take as new niche markets.

While the emission of carbon dioxide is required to drop, automobile is the industry first to radically adapt. Lighter weight is the property added to cars to enhance fuel efficiency. Substituting welds and rivets, adhesives to bond different metal materials become a proper alternative.

The market of adhesives used in cars, airplanes and other vehicles are growing at an annual rate higher than 4 percent, rather than the pace of less than 2-3 percent two years ago, according to a report by Wall Street Journal.

Henkel is developing such adhesives. Flowing like water among car metal car components, the newly developed adhesive will froth when temperature goes beyond 200 centigrade which connects mass of layers of the car sheets. The cooling afterwards then make the adhesive fasten the metal layers and plug all the vacancies in between.

Jiang Weigang, technology manager of Henkel, told Shanghai Daily that they’ve now managed the reduction of 80 percent of weight of cars from the traditional welding method with the help of the innovation, which leads to less carbon emission.

Some other benefits derive from it, such as better use experience. The loss of vacancies between the car components means less vibration among these materials, based on which noise is harder to spread. “Vibration is the cause of sound,” Jiang said. “When we manage less vibration, it means noise can be cut from its origin.” He added that up to 6 decibels can be lowered inside the cars compared with the environment outside.

The new use is applied in Shanghai, where locates the innovation center of Henkel which was launched last month. Reaping 2.3 billion euros (US$2.5 billion) last year in Asia markets, Henkel sets Shanghai as innovation hub and pumped 3.01 billion euros into technology innovation.

Christian Kirsten, Henkel’s senior vice president in transport and metal sector said they aim to further develop these properties to participate in the urbanization of Asia market led by cities like Shanghai.

Henkel is not the only participant. Bostik SA, a French-based adhesives manufacturer introduced a sealant on July 8 which is used to connect building components. The product works as substitute of concrete and since it’s non-solvent, volatile organic compounds are avoided to harm residents’ health.

It is demanded by Chinese market as the government proposed more constructions of fabricated buildings which are assembled by building components rather than put up as a whole last year, aiming to reduce the ash and waste generated in the process of conventional construction and casting.

The building market hence contributes 60 percent to the sales of Bostik in China, which is now the second largest marketplace for the company.

The extension of building sealants has just started as the China pledged that in the next decade more than 30 percent of the newly built constructions should be assembled.

Sun Zhaowen, Bostik’s managing director, said they green economy of China is the next tide to follow, based on which manufacturers should figure out more solutions focusing on protecting environment and people’s health.

The new applications are changing adhesive producers’ strategies. As social benefits are the merits adhesive manufacturers hope to boast, they hope more consumers understand their contributions to change people’s life rather than previously an ingredient for industrial production.

Sun Zhaowen, Bostik’s managing director, said nowadays they are exposing the brand directly to public consumers rather than previously mainly customers. They cast an advertisement from July in the LED screen of Citibank building in Pudong New District, where lies the city’s densest population.

Henkel on the other aspect modified their business model. The new innovation center provides a flexible ceiling where members of a project team can pick up whatever devices needed from the above. Kirsten said this is to boost up integrated teamwork, meeting more various consumer demands.


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