Company roots stretch back to the beginning of the 20th century
Long tradition, trendsetting products
Ground-breaking inventions, trendsetting product launches, strong investments and a world-famous brand mark the history of Bayer MaterialScience.
Officially, the company is still young – it was established as a legally independent subgroup in 2004 following a comprehensive restructuring of parent company Bayer AG. In fact, the Group’s chemicals and plastics activities extend back to the early part of the 20th century.
1906 Research work on the synthesis of rubber
Bayer chemist Fritz Hoffmann starts to synthesize rubber. In 1910 manufacturer Continental produces the first car tire made of methyl rubber. German emperor William II is one of the first to make use of it.
1937 Otto Bayer discovers polyurethanes
The invention by the chemist – who is not related to the family that founded the Bayer Group – revolutionizes the chemical industry – but his discovery is by chance. After mixing two chemical substances, Otto Bayer succeeds in synthesizing the first polyurethane foam. Initially nobody has an idea what it can be used for and it takes another 10 years of development work before customized materials could be manufactured from polyurethanes.
1953 Hermann Schnell discovers polycarbonate
The Bayer chemist, working at the group’s Central Scientific Laboratory in Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany succeeds in synthesizing polycarbonate more or less at the first attempt. The event passes almost unobserved, except in specialist circles. But just five years later, Bayer begins producing the transparent and versatile plastic, known by its brand name Makrolon®, on an industrial scale.
1957 Bayer completes switch to petrochemistry
Bayer joins with Deutsche BP to found Erdölchemie GmbH in Dormagen, successfully entering the petrochemical sector.
1959 Chemistry in fashion
Moltopren®, a light and soft foam presented to the public in 1952, promises to be ideal for upholstered furniture. Soon it is adopted by the fashion industry for backing fabric.
1962 Rigid foam in the cooling chain
Polyurethane rigid foam is launched as insulation material for cooling devices. This helps to considerably increase the energy efficiency of refrigerators.
1963: Makrolon® conquers kitchens and camping sites
At the plastics fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, visitors are fascinated by the lightweight plates, cups, dishes and bowls made of this shatterproof plastic that are increasingly finding its way into kitchen and caravans.
1967 K67 is world’s first all-plastic car
The sports car that Bayer presents at the plastics fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, is made almost entirely from various kinds of plastics. Only the engine, gearbox and wheels are of metal. Today, plastics make up about 15 percent of the weight of an average car – a figure that continues to rise.
1982 Birth of the audio CD
On August 17, PolyGram begins large-scale production of the first compact disc (of classical music). For this purpose, Bayer had developed a special grade of Makrolon® that is still used today as the base material for all optical storage media.
1982 First Makrolon® automobile headlamp
For decades, car headlamps were made of glass. From the 1980s the transparent high-performance plastic Markolon® has become the material of choice – being lightweight, tough and easy to shape. The trend began in the United States and Japan and came to Europe in the 1990s. Some of the modern headlamps that fit so harmoniously into the complex contours of the body would be impossible to manufacture from glass.
2000 Number one in polyurethane raw materials
Bayer acquires part of U.S.-based Lyondell Chemical Company. This move makes the German group and later Bayer MaterialScience the world’s biggest producer of raw materials for polyurethanes.
2001 Groundbreaking in Shanghai
The Bayer Integrated Site Shanghai is built on a former rice field. The vast area includes state-of-the-art production plants for plastics and for raw materials used in the manufacture of foams and coatings. The site is a focus of investment at Bayer MaterialScience.
2004 Bayer MaterialScience AG becomes independent subgroup
The company gains legal independence as part of a reorganization of the Bayer Group. The process started in 2002 when Bayer CropScience AG was launched as the first legally independent subgroup.
2005 Chemical activities partly transferred to Lanxess
Publicly owned Lanxess AG is spun off from the Bayer Group on January 28, continuing its rubber activities and parts of the chemicals business. The specialty chemicals group has its headquarters and major operations in Leverkusen, Germany. The name "Lanxess” is a combination of the French word "lancer" (meaning "to launch") and the English word "success."
2007 Patrick Thomas named Chairman on the Board of Management of Bayer MaterialScience
Since January 1, 2007, Patrick W. Thomas has been Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer MaterialScience AG. Before the British national joined the company in 2006 he had held a number of senior management positions in the chemicals industry. Born in Portsmouth in 1957, he graduated from Oxford University with an engineering degree.
2010 Expansion of business in China
The company invests another one billion euros in the next few years to expand its facilities at the site in Shanghai. Production capacities are to be more than doubled. Including the expansion, the total investment is more than three billion euros. In addition, the headquarters of the plastics subdivision has been transferred from Leverkusen in Germany to Shanghai.