Innovation matters, more than ever

In response to rapid and significant structural changes in solar energy markets, Bekaert realigned its sawing wire manufacturing platform in 2012. The company also adjusted its development resources and priorities accordingly.
Notwithstanding the downsizing of technology investments for solar applications, innovation remains a key pillar in Bekaert’s strategy to achieve sustainable profitable growth. In 2012 we therefore invested substantially in developing new products and improving production processes.

We expanded our portfolio of Dramix® fibers for concrete reinforcement with new steel fibers. The existing product portfolio was re-branded as the 3D series. The addition of the new steel fibers in the 4D and 5D series takes concrete reinforcement to the next performance class: previously unknown levels of anchorage, tensile strength and ductility guarantee the best possible solution for an ever wider range of applications. Furthermore, we developed a new type of split hooks, consisting of high quality steel wire covered with our Bezinal® 2000 coating, for the construction industry. Superior corrosion resistance, as well as an improved thermal protection result in a much longer life cycle.

Our ropes activities in Canada also continued to expand their product portfolio. Wire Rope Industries Ltd is a technological leader in a large variety of applications, among which the mining ropes. Cushion Ultra™ ropes were developed to serve the mining industry’s dragline equipment. This new, plastic-enhanced rope ensures a long service life and reduced equipment maintenance. 

Cushion Ultra™ dragline ropes at work.

The new EU tire labeling regulation poses opportunities as well as challenges for tire makers. Our new generation tire cord types, such as the ultra-tensile range, provide increased strength. This allows our customers to produce tires with a lower weight and lower rolling resistance, thereby increasing fuel efficiency and the respective performance ranking of tire models.

Bekaert, BASF and voestalpine Plastics Solutions continued to co-develop thermoplastic components reinforced with steel cord. This hybrid material has promising applications for the automotive industry, as it improves collision performance and reduces weight.

Steel cord reinforced plastics combine excellent energy-absorption and structural-integrity characteristics with low manufacturing complexity and cost. The automotive application opportunities of these crash resistant, weight reduced components include bumper beams  and body-in-white parts .

In 2012 we invested in state-of-the art equipment and further product innovation in high precision wedge wires. These triangular shaped steel wires are used to produce wedge screens and filters. Thanks to their high precision tolerance and mechanical stability, these complex wires can be integrated in fine filtration processes for oil & gas as well as for drinking water.

The higher demand for energy, along with the gradual depletion of energy reserves and the increased complexity of energy distribution, stimulate Bekaert to continuously increase the technical capabilities and coating quality of its wire solutions for energy extraction and transmission.

We launched two new products tailored specifically to short staple and needle punch carding applications for textile equipment: Bekaert CTS wires and EvoStep®.

Our Bekaert nickel titanium super elastic wires are an innovation for dental and medical applications such as surgical tools, guide wires, medical devices, dental files, etc.

Protecting our intellectual property

As a technology leader, we make significant strides in protecting our intellectual property, both for new and for improved technologies and for processes, products and equipment. In 2012, we filed 50 new patent applications, a record-high for Bekaert.

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