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On the Move: How the CASE Industry Advances Product Performance and Sustainability

October 19, 2022
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The industry known as CASE – coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers – is relied upon by nearly every consumer and commercial goods industry. Consider just a few of the innumerable products that need one or more CASE chemicals or CASE materials:

  • Automotive components
  • Construction materials
  • Food packaging
  • Medical devices
  • Electronics
  • Solar power systems

It’s no surprise, then, that the global CASE market is approaching $300 billion USD. Two consumer-driven challenges facing every industry today, including CASE, are (1) continuous improvement in product performance and (2) commitment in advancing product and process sustainability. CASE chemicals and materials manufacturers are making great strides in addressing these challenges within their industry.

But there’s more: the ubiquitous nature of CASE in modern life and the innovation demonstrated by the CASE industry makes it uniquely positioned to help other manufacturers meet the same challenges.

Advanced Performance

The CASE materials of today provide superior performance, such as enhanced protection, strength, durability, and many other characteristics that are crucial for an array of end uses. Demand for elastomers, for instance, continues to increase in the construction industry because of their resilience, impact strength, high elongation, tear resistance, and abrasion resistance.

Similarly, advanced coatings provide improved corrosion protection for automotive components and other items susceptible to corrosion. These are just two examples of the superior performance of next-generation CASE materials.

CASE manufacturers are also leading in the development of innovative materials with properties that aid in the function of end-use products. Some exciting recent advances in “functional” CASE include:

  • Semiconductor production – photoresist coatings that alter the wafer surface, enabling control over the doping and etching processes.
  • Electric vehicles – specialty adhesive formulations that are thermally conductive, helping maintain optimal battery temperature during operation and charging.

Integral Sustainability

Specialty chemicals manufacturers and CASE companies are using their expertise to develop and implement strategies that make their work safer for the environment and climate. One way they are doing so is by developing formulations that use bio-based raw materials. Examples of source materials for bio-based innovations include:

  • Corn
  • Soybeans
  • Beets
  • Other plants and minerals

This is a major topic of discussion at industry gatherings where companies share their successes and ideas for replacing petroleum-based raw materials with bio-based alternatives.

The industrial biotechnology revolution is also providing the CASE industry with better ways to produce advanced materials: by harnessing the power of living organisms and the molecules they produce. Biomanufacturing via microbial fermentation is providing an increasing number of high-performance raw materials for CASE formulations.

This approach helps preserve natural resources and decreases the environmental impact of raw materials production. The use of bio-based raw materials is leading to improved recyclability of CASE chemicals and more availability of recycled raw materials. Both of these strategies are contributing to the establishment of the circular economy.

Sustainable CASE chemicals and materials also help end-use manufacturers advance their own sustainability efforts.

For instance,

  • Incredibly strong yet lightweight adhesives used in multiple points of electric vehicle assembly help reduce vehicle weight, which improves its operational efficiency and energy use profile.
  • Advanced nanocoatings improve the durability and lifespan of end-use products, which reduces the rate of waste generation from spent items and the rate of resource use to replace them.

 United by Advanced Testing

These advanced CASE innovations in both performance and sustainability are paralleled by advances in analytical technology. Manufacturers rely on next-generation technologies throughout their workflows, from R&D to process quality control and final product testing. Superior analytical instrumentation helps make it possible to achieve advanced performance formulations that are also sustainable.

Learn more about innovations in the CASE industry by downloading the full white paper.

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