Bayer Materialscience Adds ‘Muscle’ to Portfolio

Takeover of AMI Expands Company’s Scope of Electroactive Polymer Products

14.04.2010 -

Bayer Materialscience's (BMS) March acquisition of electroactive polymers pioneer Artificial Muscle, Inc. (AMI) could not have come at a better time. The organic and printed electronics market is booming, and BMS has further positioned itself as a leader in the field. According to BMS, all AMI employees, including the President and CEO Scott Metcalf, will remain following the acquisition. "This is an exciting milestone for our company, and we look forward to scaling our growth as part of Bayer Materialscience," said Scott Metcalf.
Brandi Schuster asked Bernd Steinhilber, head of BMS Functional Films, about the acquisition of the California-based company and how it fits into the Bayer family.

CHEManager Europe: What do you see as the most significant applications for electroactive polymers? In which areas do you expect the most growth potential?

B. Steinhilber: New generation touch screens will definitely benefit from electroactive polymers (EAP). EAP give touch screen panels in consumer electronics added "awareness through touch" by creating authentic tactile feedback, similar to a conventional keyboard. This innovative technology has huge application potential, particularly for electronic devices like smartphones, game controllers and touchpads.
In the future, there is also great potential for electroactive polymer sensors and actuators to act as an enabling technology in fields such as automotive, medical and energy generation.

What specific synergies are there between BMS and AMI? What are some examples of R&D that BMS has conducted that will be enhanced by the AMI purchase?

B. Steinhilber: Bayer Materialscience is the inventor of polyurethane technology and remains a leader in this field. We have huge expertise in process technology for film production coupled with profound analytical skills. This equips us to take a leading position in the research and development of electroactive polymer films. In addition, we are a global organization with access to a global market.
Through AMI, we have added a broad IP portfolio of materials, processes, design and applications, as well as further valuable expertise in R&D in the field of electroactive polymer products. Furthermore, AMI has a strong focus and advanced customer projects in the electronic area.
This acquisition allows Bayer MaterialScience to combine AMI's excellent technology with our existing expertise and enhances our leading position in electroactive polymers in materials and in their use in numerous applications. Bayer MaterialScience is now an integrated electroactive polymer films and element supplier that will be able to address a broad range of the value chain.

Does AMI have particular technologies or products that fit into BMS' existing portfolio, or is this a completely new addition for your company?

B. Steinhilber: The combination of material and of integration know-how to produce elements gives additional synergy.

What industrial uses for actuators and sensing components do you see? What markets are you specifically looking to serve?

B. Steinhilber: There are various application opportunities. For example touch pad panels, mobile phones, laptop computers, as well as numerous opportunities in the automotive and the medical areas.
Currently we are focusing on electroactive polymere technology in haptic feedback applications; our intention is to replace mechanical buttons by an advanced printed electronic solution.

Where geographically do you see the most market potential for electroactive polymers?

B. Steinhilber: We believe there are opportunities across the globe. But, before we take a decision on a major production investment, we will evaluate in detail, the demand of the various markets. It is fair to say, however, that Asia has a strong and growing electronics sector, so there is a very good chance that that region offers great potential.

The market for organic and printed electronics is expected to grow by $57 billion by 2019. Is BMS looking into other acquisitions or JVs in this fast-growing field?

B. Steinhilber: BMS will continue to look for partnerships with potential to result in JVs or acquisitions as growth drivers besides our own R&D activities.



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