PCB | December 06, 2010
Isola Düren uses crisis for realignment
Whilst not belonging to the traditional portfolio of Isola, they have actually become an important product division and for the general public they are a familiar part of our landscapes: wind turbines that generate electricity. But what has Isola got to do with this?
"There are tremendous centrifugal forces having an impact on each blade of the wind turbine", Karl Stollenwerk, general manager of Isola GmbH, Düren, stated "the rotor e. g. has to be ruggedised accordingly." However, it is not only the strength but also the flexibility and the need for light weight that are part of the specification of a wind turbine. "At the best, only a breeze is needed to set it in motion", the manager specifies. But what is Isola's concern in this all? Isola's vested business is base material for the production of printed circuit boards for the electronics industry, used in computers, vehicles and airplanes, TV sets, mobile phones, or DVD players, by way of example. It therefore raises the following question : Why does the company switch to different sectors? "We made a virtue out of necessity", Karl Stollenwerk describes the recent history: "From 2000 until today the European market of our core business has shrunk by 50%. We were forced to release 65% of our staff in the course of the last 9 years. Thus, it is high time to oppose this development and we have started to focus more and more on future markets beyond electronics." From wind power to safety features and equipment Wind power is a part of it but also solar technology, new applications in automotive engineering, ship building, railway engineering, and aircraft industry, the field of safety equipment to the point of producing state-of-the-art materials for the architecture. "Since 2001, the large badge production in the sectors automobile electronics or mobile communication as an example has increasingly been shifted to Asia. It is a long time ago that we were able to compete with their cost and price structure", Dr Manfred Cygon, Director New Applications with Isola GmbH, gets it to the point, "however, our methodological skills as well as our technical know-how provide us with the necessary tools to break into new markets where it depends on innovations and extraordinary ideas." Valuable contacts have been established Valuable contacts with other companies of the targeted future markets have been established or are even coming to fruition. The business field "Smart Cards" has been established, too. Each card (e.g.: credit cards, fuel cards, insurance cards, etc.) is based on a particular laminate. In the wind power industry promising quality tests with rotor blades being reinforced with laminates from Isola are currently being conducted. Beyond this Isola is working on new safety laminates for vehicles: inserts of plastic for tanks giving vital protection e.g. civil vehicles respectively the passengers from assaults – a market booming in conflict areas. The advantage over the bullet proof steel used so far is that the vehicles will be essentially lighter and with it more economically affordable. Furthermore, Isola is active in the field of electric mobility. "Electric cars as vehicles of the future need extremely efficient batteries in order to gain acceptance in the market. Here, we have a hit in our hands with our know how on boards", the management of the Duren based company evaluates the prospect optimistically.