"We have a starting range of generics to suit a wide variety of needs, but outside of this the important thing to remember is that we are a development partner first and foremost," Kadlcak said.
"We are always open to tailor and redevelop these materials to suit specific applications, and by engaging with us at an early stage, we can add a great deal of value in areas such as design flexibility, optimization, commercialization and speed to market."
Project ETEMI has seen Datwyler's capabilities advance in a number of areas, including the mixing of special compounds using in-house mixing equipment and specifically designed mixing programs, as well as the ability to comprehensively analyze and test new materials.
"We have only begun to scratch the surface in terms of opportunities for our customers," said Kadlcak.
"From the beginning we have been striving to proactively demonstrate our capabilities in terms of developing generic materials with electrical and thermal conductivity and EMI shielding, and the real value to our customer comes with the redevelopment or co-engineering work that follows. Here, we are able to gear the material toward specific requirements in collaboration with our customers, depending on their specific application."
While similar initiatives to Project ETEMI are conducted at the academic level, Datwyler decided to keep this in-house. Project ETEMI is pioneered by Datwyler's research and development team.
"The background of our developers is, for the most part, academic—all holding (master's of science) or Ph.D.-level qualifications and transferring this into the development work—but the advantages of working a project like this in-house are that we can create and test in real time and also harness the expertise we have in areas such as lifecycle management and operational efficiency," said Kadlcak.
"This allows us to really push the envelope of what is possible in order to find unconventional solutions to generate USP's for our company. Obviously, through our network of external partners and academic connections we may request specific services or help, but the overall project is indeed kept within our company.
"Material expertise is considered a core competence at Datwyler and ETEMI has achieved significant traction from the market already."
Datwyler reported that because many of the challenges that may arise will be new, in-house laboratories have been equipped with the expertise and technology required to develop and test compounds to the very highest levels of regulated norms. These include ISO 1853 and ASTM D911 for electrical conductivity, ASTM D4935-18 to analyze EMI shielding effectiveness, or DIN EN 993-15 to characterize thermal conductivity of developed compounds.
Looking toward the future
Datwyler has two main business areas: industrial solutions and health care solutions. ETEMI materials have been developed under the headline of industrial solutions, Kadlcak said, but there are other projects building on these capabilities as well.
"In health care, we are working on a product called SoftPulse, elastomer-based soft dry electrodes used in the area of wearables for bio-monitoring," he said.
"This technology can be used easily outside of the hospital environment because the special design and material does not require a special skin preparation or the use of gels for signal acquisition."
Additionally, the company is building on the expertise of Project ETEMI and developing elastomer parts for a robot from a Swiss-based company, developing mobile robotics for industrial applications.
"In certain respects, the material development for all these projects overlap and we have been able to find synergies between them," Kadlcak said.
He added that Datwyler plans to grow its capabilities as the needs and requirements of its market and customers evolve.
"ETEMI is the first project that has come out of our internal reflection process, but there are several other areas that we believe will become very important and to which our material portfolio must be fully aligned," Kadlcak said.
While the company is well-known in the brakes business and traditional vacuum brake booster diaphragms, as well as in seals for fuel and powertrain systems or exhaust gas treatment, as the automotive market transitions to electrification and standard or conventional applications continue to develop continuously, Kadlcak said the materials department needs to be agile and versatile in its approach.
"Areas such as hydrogen applications, battery systems and printable materials, to name just a few, are in focus for many key industrial players, and there are other technologies, less known or with less focus, that will become important in electrified mobility," he said.
"We at Datwyler are very active to ensure we stay at the forefront as the transition away from conventional mobility continues."