SEKISUI is a Japanese company with headquarters in Tokyo and Osaka. The company produces high performance materials for many different industries and applications. SEKISUI has 27,000 employees and an annual turnover of EUR 8.8 billion globally. 

Interview with Satoshi Masuda, Managing Director of SEKISUI EUROPE B.V. 

Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.

Satoshi Masuda: SEKISUI in Europe consists of 16 companies operating in four business areas: Mobility, Construction and Infrastructure, Electronics, and Medical and Diagnostics. SEKISUI’s European headquarters is in Roermond, the Netherlands, with plants in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany and sales offices across Europe. 

In the development of its products, SEKISUI focuses on the highest quality standards, sustainability, and customization of its special applications. Everyone is surrounded by SEKISUI products in their daily lives – even if they’re mostly invisible. SEKISUI materials can be found in cars, homes and other buildings, furniture and even smartphones.

E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

S.M: SEKISUI is a manufacturing company with core competencies in processing and developing new technologies for semi-finished products. The company has customers in various industries such as hospitals, OEMs in the mobility sector or the automotive supply chain, the railway industry, semiconductor manufacturers as well as the construction sector.

In Europe, SEKISUI focuses on lightweight materials, noise reduction applications, the improvement of safety and comfort, and energy reduction.

E.E: What’s the news about new products/services?

S.M: In October 2023, SEKISUI opened a new production facility for synthetic railway sleepers in Roermond, the Netherlands. They are made of FFU, a fiber-reinforced urethane composite originally developed by SEKISUI in Japan. SEKISUI’s FFU sleepers replace conventional wooden sleepers in all types of railway applications. FFU sleepers have a long service life of up to 50 years and have similar flexibility in comparison to wooden sleepers. FFU is not affected by UV light and retains its technical properties even after many years of exposure. It has furthermore been proven not to contaminate water sources. The new production has nearly doubled global production and greatly simplified distribution channels and allows faster delivery for European customers. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products/services?

S.M: Let’s have a look at what we do in the construction area in Europe. SEKISUI produces an interlayer film made of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) resin. The film ensures the safety in many applications, such as glass facades, curtain walls and glass partitions. PVB interlayer is attracting attention as a technology that can enhance the possibilities of glass. Our PVB interlayer film for laminated glass is widely used all over the world and, in addition to its safety properties, can provide benefits such as UV blocking, acoustic quietness from outside noise, solar control, and smooth design for privacy effect.

We see that trends in contemporary architecture have led to the pursuit of more elaborate and larger glass surfaces to make spaces brighter and more visually appealing. Architects and building professionals around the world are increasing the amount of light in buildings by using different types of glass in construction, such as glass facades, spandrel glazing and glass curtain wall systems on the exterior. And in the interior, glass is a popular option for partitions, doors, and staircases to make spaces feel more open and larger. These trends have led to a need for more functional glass. SEKISUI PVB interlayer film for laminated safety glass offers a wide range of benefits in buildings while maintaining transparency.

SEKISUI also produces a variety of applications for the building industry, such as polyvinyl alcohol applications in wood glue, paper and tiles. Premium underlayments allow builders to support their laminate, parquet, and vinyl flooring. Further building materials are gutter systems, drainage channels and ventilation systems. In the industrial sector, SEKISUI’s fire protection materials are used in fire barrier doors and pipes, which are designed to seal the air space between doors and frames, preventing the passage of flames and providing a safe environment.

E.E: What is the state of the market where you are currently active?

S.M: We see that change is everywhere, and at SEKISUI we want to be at the forefront of new developments. The railway industry, for example, is generally a growing and expanding market in Europe. Public transport is an important factor for many stakeholders in reducing the carbon footprint while maintaining individual mobility in society. Our network and rail customers expect us to develop new technologies that support their sustainability and environmental performance. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

S.M: As an innovative company, we strive to identify current market trends in the different industries we sell products to. For example, we see that the use of new products manufactured by SEKISUI is growing rapidly. In the railway industry, which is traditionally a rather slow adopter of new products and changes, we’re observing an increasing demand and popularity for the use of composite materials and fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) with longer service life. We also see that customers expect high safety standards for the products they use.

E.E: What are the most innovative products/services marketed?

S.M: SEKISUI offers a range of innovative products, many of which are at the forefront of development in their respective fields. For example, Calmmoon Rail is used in railway infrastructure to create quieter tracks. Calmmoon Rail wraps the rails with elements made of thin steel sheet to which SEKISUI’s Calmmoon technology is bonded to reduce the airborne sound and vibration energy of the steel sheet. A sound-absorbing foam is permanently attached to the top. The Calmmoon sound absorbing panel is the key technology of the system: thanks to its material composition, it converts the sound energy emitted by the track into heat.

Another product is the thermal gap filler used in the automotive industry. It is mainly used in powertrain applications or battery packs systems in electric vehicles, contributing to the cooling of electronic components and battery cells in EV, PHEV and HEV. The product is offering a wide range of thermal conductivity levels, low volatile siloxane content, low density, weight and viscosity options for the dispensing process, reduced wear, optimized rheological properties, long service life as well as field-proven long-term reliability records.  

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2024?

S.M: We are confident that we can build a sustainable business in Europe, leveraging synergies between companies and our expertise from different markets to best serve our customers. Our approach is to always be at the cutting-edge of new developments and trends.