Interview with Thomas Koeppl from Hexpol

Ahead of his presentation at Thermoplastic Elastomers World Summit 2018. Thomas Koeppl spoke to us about the future of the elastomers industry.

Q. Your presentation is about serving the latest automotive trends with sustainable and innovative TPE compounds, what can delegates expect to learn from your talk?
The changes in the automotive industry have got faster in recent years. These changes also include several trends which influence TPE developments. One trend is the aim to improve vehicle interior air quality by reducing material emissions and odour. Another trend is the increase of material sustainability by using renewable and recycled resources. Additionally, more and more individualised solutions step into the foreground like 3D-printed and coloured parts for small series. However, Electrification and Electromobility is the most interesting trend of the past years and leads to new requirements for TPE with electrical function. The presentation will give an overview of these trends and the resulting innovative TPE compounds for the automotive industry.

Q. Why is it important to share your research with the rest of the industry?
The automotive industry is a main driver for the European industry and the most important market for TPE. The main challenge for TPE is that the requirements can be vastly different depending on the application area (for example passenger compartment, under the hood or exterior). Based on a longtime experience with customised TPE compounds HEXPOL TPE has created specialised TPE which show new possibilities and advantages for diverse automotive applications.

Q.  How do you think that changes in the automotive sector will affect the TPE industry going forward?
The automotive industry has always acted as a market driver for innovative materials. This is also the case for TPE which are primarily developed for the automotive sector but can also be adapted for other applications. For example, automotive exterior applications require a very high UV resistance which requires specialised materials. However, this high weathering resistance can also be beneficial for other exterior applications.

Q. What innovations happening in the industry are you most excited about?
The electromobility trend is very exciting and leads to new demands and specifications. One of those demands is an increased reduction of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). This noise issue has become more apparent due to the silent electric motor. Due to their high versatility TPE can offer tailor-made solutions for this and other new demands in the automotive industry (for example antistatic parts and increased flame retardancy).

Q. Why do you think that delegates should attend the TPE World Summit 2018? Why would you encourage colleagues to attend?
The TPE summit showcases trends in the TPE market and gives a good opportunity to meet people in the industry. In Milan we’re looking forward to exchanging ideas and discussing new and emerging market demands.