How can we prevent water from seeping into cable jacketing? How can we make pipes corrosion-resistant, even at temperatures of up to 95° C? How do we ensure that food packaging is airtight? Yparex has answers to all these questions. It can create a perfect hermetic seal for a serving of fish by bonding some 16 layers of polymer into an invisible barrier that guarantees freshness, but it can also protect high-tension cables against wind and weather.
Film is in everything these days
"We make plastic that sticks," Wouter explains. "It's an extrudable adhesive that only clings when it melts. We sell our product to manufacturers of packaging for perishable foodstuffs, medication, or personal care products. But that's not all. We also sell to manufacturers of industrial building materials such as pipes, cabling, and cladding panels. The demands on these products are getting stricter. That's why it's becoming increasingly common to make films, packaging, and even building cladding out of multiple layers. They're so thin and flexible that no one suspects they consist of ten layers or more. The secret is the adhesion -the invisible (we say with some pride, incomparable)- adhesion of Yparex® adhesive resins."
Multilayer resins are used to protect many everyday products from the air, heat, or water. Examples include flexible packaging for meat, cheese, or fish, milk and juice cartons, vacuum-packed fresh pasta, sterile packaging such as intravenous bags or needle packaging, tubes of make-up or toothpaste, and in-floor heating pipes and sanitary hot and cold water plumbing. They're everywhere, but we scarcely notice them.
Pressed for a description, he suggests the title “combiner”— someone who finds solutions and connections.
Wouter van den Berg
"Airborne bacteria spoil food. The right packaging can protect food against bacteria so it keeps longer. Dutch seafarers back in the seventeenth century were already aware of that. When they first began undertaking long voyages, they had trouble keeping their food supplies from going bad. They'd take along a live goat and a few chickens, but beyond that... So they treated the food in different ways to extend its shelf life. They dried it, hung it out in the wind, wrapped it in a rind, pickled and preserved it. Anything to counteract bacteria, mold, or chemical and physical processes."
We get some coffee. Wouter lays a handful of sweeteners on the table. Doesn't he have a dispenser? l guess not. I keep misplacing mine, too. I put a few of the sweeteners in my coffee. "Stop!" Wouter holds out a hand and then laughs. "I always put these on the table to demonstrate how simple our product is, and how easy they are to use." So the sweeteners weren't sweeteners at all, but the granulate form in which Yparex sells its product.
"Another important point is that our organization was the first in the world to market a bio-based layer resin. It's made of biomass instead of petroleum, and that means it's almost entirely biodegradable. Our Yparex Renew tie-layer resin offers manufacturers of multilayer packaging the chance to use a more sustainable adhesive tie layer, more than 95% of which is made of renewable resources."
Whether you want a perfectly sealed serving of salmon or some 16 layers of polymer bonded together to create an impregnable barrier, we can join anything to anything.
Wouter van den Berg
Power Of Impossibility
How did they come up with the idea for their adhesive? "That was some time ago, when we noticed the growing demand for better packaging but also for lighter water supply pipes in every conceivable size and for every conceivable purpose. It's interesting how great inventions almost always come about in response to a problem. The more difficult the problem, the more brainpower and creativity people invest in finding a solution. We call that the Power of Impossibility."
What's so different about Chemelot and Brightlands, in Wouter's view? "It's very important that we all have access to all sorts of research facilities. It means we're well and truly connected, all the time, and can share what we know. That allows us to tackle projects together that we might not be able to handle without that exceptional brand of partnership, analytically speaking and in terms of process technology. The Brightlands ecosystem makes it all possible.
"At a certain point, there was a move to divide DSM up into smaller, specialist firms. That led to compartmentalization all around. Everyone wants to control their own piece of the territory. The challenge for Brightlands Chemelot Campus is to reverse that trend."
You can travel faster alone, but farther as a team
"I think being here on the Campus and interacting with people allows me to influence things. It also helps me stay up to date on the latest developments. For example, who else might we work with here? All that is a lot easier because I can just stroll over to the cafeteria and sit down with my contacts at SABIC, LANXESS, DSM, and Resolve. For me, that's the very essence of Brightlands. We're very good at that—at getting together, working together, and striving together for success. It's one big collaborative team."