Dürr is positioning itself in the growing Li-ion battery market as a supplier of production technology and is expanding its market access to battery manufacturers through a cooperation with Techno Smart, a leading Japanese manufacturer of coating systems. The group covers all relevant technologies for coating electrodes for lithium-ion batteries.
In the future, Dürr suggests, producers of batteries for electric cars will receive complete packages from one supplier: state-of-the-art technology for coating and drying electrodes and proven systems for solvent recovery. The coating systems of the Japanese company Techno Smart are in high demand among battery manufacturers for e-cars. That is why Dürr is bringing the coating specialists technology on board.
This provides us with a convincing and comprehensive package for major projects in the automotive sector.—Dr. Jochen Weyrauch, Deputy CEO of the Dürr Systems AG
In the medium-term, Dürr and Techno Smart are aiming for a sales volume in the high double-digit million range in battery manufacturing technology business.
With the acquisition of the US Company Megtec/Universal in 2018, Dürr expanded its portfolio by adding important competencies in battery manufacturing technology. With its coating, drying and solvent recovery systems, Dürr Megtec offers solutions for three essential steps in the production of lithium-ion batteries. Dürr Megtec is part of the Clean Technology Systems division.
In the coating process, anode or cathode active material is applied on both sides as a thin slurry onto a metal foil. The drying process then creates a solid composite material. Within the lithium-ion battery cell, the role of the active material is to store the energy, while the metal foil ensures the dissipation of current. Solvents used in the manufacturing process can be recovered for reuse with Dürr technologies.
Both sides of the metal foil are coated in one pass to provide an efficient process. Dürr Megtec developed a special coating process for simultaneous two-sided coating. Slot-dies are used to coat both sides of the electrode foil directly and are then dried in a horizontal air flotation dryer. Benefits of this unique process are, among others, smaller overall manufacturing footprint and high cost efficiency.
Dürr Megtec offers a system for the coating of lithium-ion electrodes in batteries. The technology is unique, in that the metal foil as base material is coated simultaneously with the anode/cathode material.
With its simultaneous two-sided coating solution for battery electrodes, so far Dürr has been successful mainly in niche segments. For example, the company is benefitting from the growing demand for small-format lithium-ion batteries for hearing aids, headphones and other mobile electrical devices. In the first half of 2020, among others, a major contract was received from a battery manufacturer in Germany.
However, the biggest growth driver in the market for battery manufacturing technology is electromobility. For the large amounts of electrodes required for e-car batteries, Techno Smart offers a highly efficient, proven and robust process. The slurry is applied on the first side by a slot die over a backing roller and becomes dry directly afterwards. After leaving the dryer in the first pass, the foil is turned and the second side is coated and dried following the same process.
The Dürr Group identifies this as a great opportunity. The portfolio includes not only solutions for coating but also gluing technology for battery modules and coolant filling systems for batteries. Moreover, Dürr is supplying painting, final assembly and testing systems for e-cars.
With an order intake of just under €400 million, production technology for e-cars already accounted for 22% of the order volume in the automotive business last year. For 2020, the growth trend is continuing, particularly due to the strong demand in China. Despite the corona crisis, Dürr was able to significantly increase incoming orders in the electromobility business in the first half of the year.
Techno Smart has been building coating systems for a wide range of applications since the 1960s. The coating specialist launched solutions for coating lithium-ion battery cells from early 1990s and has already supplied its high-precision technology to major battery manufacturers in the Asian market. In 2019, the Japanese plant engineering company with around 250 employees achieved a turnover of €130 million.