The context and opportunities

The market share for European plastic and rubber producers of commoditized products is getting steadily reduced in favor of lower manufacturing costs from emerging countries. European Rubber and Plastic Seals need to base their competitive advantage in their capability to develop more sophisticated technologies, thus more difficult to counterfeit, and keep feeding their innovation pipeline to be able to release innovative products at a relatively rapid rate.

Maintaining margins in highly commoditized rubber and plastic products is getting very difficult for European enterprises, given the increased cost of raw materials and the increased price sensitivity of the end users. For EU manufacturers it is extremely unlikely that they can find a way to significantly reduce their manufacturing costs, so their only way to long term sustainable growth is moving to higher added value products.


(Photographs by ML Engraving)


Benefits of SoftSlide implementation

The implementation of the SoftSlide project (and its consequent energy savings) is expected to increase European Dynamic seals market sales revenue by 30% in the first 5 years of commercialization. Once integrated into pneumatic and hydraulic devices benefits for end users are estimated in 3315 M€/year energy savings and 33150 M KWh/year (see section 2.1.4 for more details).

SoftSlide project will open a path to increase energy efficiency for hydraulic and pneumatic equipment achieving up to 18% of energy savings by simply substituting standard dynamic seals by textured dynamic seals. Moreover, durability of components subjected to friction will be increased up to 100% Textured seals will be priced on average 1€/dynamic seal at market versus 0,5 €/dynamic seals in the case of standard rubber.

(Picture by ITAINNOVA)

In the case of advanced polymers textured seals will increase from 1€/dynamic textured seal to 2€/dynamic seal. The project will focus firstly on pneumatic actuators, hydraulic cylinder and hydraulic pumps and motors dynamic seals (piston seal, wiper seals, o-rings, oil seals and rotating shaft seals, which is considered the market in which durability and friction control are crucial. Considering a conservative market penetration of 15% by 2022, we forecast a potential market of EUR 60 million €/year by 2022.

(Picture by SKM)