Painting polypropylene surfaces without pre-treatment

Steinbeis supports a company launch and product development

Paint developer Gerd Niemeyer is an expert in special coatings which adhere properly on polypropylene (PP) without any pre-treatment, as used to be required. You’ll find lacquered polypropylene on parts like bumpers, side trims, plus a whole variety of components in car interiors, although it is also used on household items and consumer electronics as well as a host of other components. The key advantage with the new generation of coatings is that they cut the cost of adding finishes to polypropylene parts. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Project Development has been working with the specialist paint developer since 2004.  

The initial focus was on running pilot projects with new types of lacquers. This led to the founding of POLYSIL GmbH – a company partly owned by Steinbeis Beteiligungs- Holding GmbH. In the meantime, Autovision GmbH has also taken a shareholding in POLYSIL, giving the wholly owned VW subsidiary access to the technology of POLYSIL.

Later in the project, the Stuttgart-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Project Development pinpointed potential customers for pilot projects involving the lacquering of polypropylene components, before guiding them through testing and documenting the results. At first, the focus lay on customers from the automotive sector, as this is a very clear area of the market. The Steinbeis Transfer Center also put these customers in touch with Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, where the necessary testing was carried out on POLYSIL coatings in VW’s central laboratory.

After a series of meetings with companies it became clear that this new technology could also help cut costs or improve product performance in other areas. Applications included:

  • Coating of expanded polypropylene (EPP)
  • Improving adhesion between PU foam and PP
  • Improving adhesion in PP to be veneered
  • Coating of PP films
  • Clear coating of colored PP parts
  • Printing PP surfaces
  • Coating of PP furniture surfaces
  • Coating of cosmetic packaging
  • Printing materials for subsequent water transfer printing

POLYSIL was founded at the end of 2005 on the “Innovation Campus” in Wolfsburg. Even at this early stage, Steinbeis had a shareholding in POLYSIL GmbH, underpinning the company’s potential as an innovator and lending it extra weight in dealing with other investors. Finally, in March 2008 Autovision GmbH became a shareholder in the young company.

In the meantime, the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Project Development is working on a global sales strategy for POLYSIL, establishing contacts with customers and partners. The aim in building up a sales network for POLYSIL is to keep things simple, so the focus in international sales is on partnerships and licensing. A licensee has already been found for South America. The team is currently actively seeking more sales partners for states in eastern Europe and other industrialized countries. Here, too, when looking for partners in specific countries, Steinbeis’s global network really comes into its own.  


Dipl.-Ing.(FH) Siegfried Walter
Steinbeis Transfer Center Project Development (Stuttgart)

Dipl.-Chemiker Gerd Niemeyer
POLYSIL GmbH (Wolfsburg)

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