They’re flat, flexible and inconspicuous, but very intelligent – small electronic devices that are affixed to the skin like a patch, providing support for consumers when they’re taking part in sports and leisure activities or treating medical conditions. Such wearables have enormous market potential, even though there are still a few hurdles to clear. Covestro is driving the development forward with integral and sustainable material solutions that make the wearables more comfortable to wear while also enabling further areas of application.
An important target group for wearables are consumers who are personally committed to safeguarding their health and well-being. The little devices can ascertain their level of physical fitness, measure body temperature and pulse rate, and evaluate the quality of sleep. It’s expected that in the future, improved and even smarter products will also play a supporting role in medical diagnoses and treatments, and even deliver medications in accurate dosages. This would require them to remain on the skin for extended periods and be comfortable to wear.
The right mix of materials guarantees outstanding comfort
“Consumers want wearables that cling gently to the skin, and that are also breathable and hypoallergenic,” says Gerd Büschel, a films expert at Covestro. “We’re meeting this need with a clever combination of different materials. The patch is affixed to the wearer by means of a skin-friendly, breathable adhesive, which also is solvent-free and water-repellent. For this the company is offering custom-tailored polyurethane (PU) raw materials.
A film made of thermoplastic polyurethane, frequently in combination with a thermoplastic PU foam, forms the outer envelope. In addition to protecting the electronics and ensuring comfort for the wearer, this layer must be as thin as possible to prevent build-up of the adhesive bond. The Covestro products also make it easy to embed the sensor in the patch, by using thermoplastic processing technologies – without resorting to additional wet chemistry.
A competent partner
Covestro has a broad spectrum of know-how when it comes to the materials and their processing, and the company is looking for partners along the value chain who are interested in pursuing and coordinating further projects. “Developments like this are helping us make the world a brighter place,” says Büschel.
Soon wearables may play a role not only during leisure activities, but also in the workplace, for example in hospitals, industrial facilities and businesses.
Be sure to visit us at the K 2016 plastics trade fair from October 19 to 26 in Düsseldorf, Germany, Hall 6, Stand A 75. You will find more information at www.k2016.covestro.com.
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and employs approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents) as of the end of 2016.
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This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available on the Covestro website at www.covestro.com. Covestro assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.