First EPP-meeting in Bayreuth 'discovers' the variety of the miraculous foam
Bayreuth, on November the 21st / 22nd of 2007. More than 70 international specialists appeared in the Kompetenzzentrum Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH for the first EPP-meeting. Centered were the application areas and future options of one of the most innovative substances of our age: EPP (expanded polypropylene). This foam, which is similar to polystyrene, is characterized by its multifunctionality and its great variety of shapes. Nevertheless, the application of EPP is occasionally limited almost exclusively to the automobile and packaging industry. The pronounced objective of the marketing platform EPP-Forum e.V., which is based in Bayreuth (Oberfranken), is to win new sectors of industry for the all-round material.

Specialists from renowned institutes and enterprises report on noteworthy information about EPP. At the successfully launched meeting, which was themed `Innovations evolve from passion´, scientists and company agents informed about the current applications and potentials for the future of EPP. Dr. Peter Wolf from BASF AG introduced the partnerships of innovation and the mega-trends in the face of EPP-foams. A lecture on the prevailing state of research about the development of nano-materials, which shall help to manufacture tailor-made polymer-foams, was given by Professor Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt from the chair of `Polymere Werkstoffe´ of the University Bayreuth.

Potentials and limits of the foam took center stage in the report of Tim Schwegler from the technical consulting firm DMT GmbH and Roland Zeifang from RUCH NOVAPLAST GmbH & Co. KG, one of the leading processors of particle foam. Dr. Albert Beerli from the international operating business `XL-Generation´ presented a new, very innovative area of application for EPP: the artificial turf.

As well Hans Wörthwein (FEBRA-Kunststoffe GmbH), chief executive of the EPP-Forum e.V. and conference host, referred about the successful usage of EPP in the catering and the transport of groceries. For Bob Veerman and Jeroen Scheffer from the Dutch enterprise HSV Packaging & Insulation bv, which particularly produces insulations and piping systems, EPP proved of value as substance in the building services.

Not only the range of functions of EPP was issue for discussion, its fabrication provided plenty topics of conversation as well. EPP is a very ecology-minded material since it does not contain any foaming agent and is characterized by a positive CO2 balance. But its fabrication still is very energy-intensive. Georg Schloms from the first consulting and contracting enterprise for the EPS, EPP and EPE particle foam sector informed about the state-of-the-art and further future prospects. In his report he examined the EPP process in view of energy.

EPP emerges as precursor of new ideas on the basis of its special attributes. Christian Traßl, managing director of the EPP forum and technical chief of the plastic domain at the `Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH´, completed the exceedingly informative day with a lecture themed `Fireworks of ideas ? Innovations made of polymer foams´. The managing director emphasized that the material will be conducive to new innovations in two production lines:

  • EPP is robust and at the same time lightweight, heat- and cold-resistant as well as heat insulating. The combination of these diverse attributes will affect the development of new, outstanding innovative beginnings like a positive impact.
  • Traßl considers further scopes of duties of EPP beyond the previous utilization in the automotive industry. The foam is suitable as material for perfume wrapping or the work of art as well.
The EPP forum is quoted as marketing and communication platform of researchers and businesses.
The EPP forum e.V., which hearkens back to an initiative of leading enterprises in the branches resource manufacture, engineering and converting, committed itself to acquaint EPP out of the present economic range as well.

The internet portal www.epp-forum.com, which has just been translated into further languages, does not only act as marketing platform there, at the same time it is supposed to inform about the latest findings in research and development. Especially small and medium-sized businesses, whose often limited resources constrain the own research strongly, can benefit intensely from such exchange of information.

In the north bavarian region the `Kompetenzzentrum Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH´ and the chair in polymer substances of the university of Bayreuth are instrumental in the development and exploration of EPP. Both institutions are closely connected to the EPP forum ? the `Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH´ as founder member and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt from the chair in polymer substances as scientific advisory board.