NEXTREMA® goes from strength to strength
After studying in Germany and Spain, Roberto began working at SCHOTT in 2010 as part of their graduate program. He then rose to become Head of Strategy & Business Development in the Business Unit Home Tech before becoming Head of Product Management NEXTREMA®. He is now SCHOTT’s Head of Product Management ROBAX® & NEXTREMA®, responsible for the definition and implementation of product strategies as well as the management of the product portfolio.
What was NEXTREMA® originally developed for?
At SCHOTT, we have a long history of processing glass-ceramic products, and we were approached by customers from a range of industries with challenges and production issues that required a certain set of physical properties. Out of those enquiries came the idea to establish a glass-ceramic material platform under a recognizable brand that solves a number of customer challenges from domestic to industrial applications.
What are the special properties of NEXTREMA®?
Like a lot of ceramic materials it can withstand high temperatures – up to 950 ºC. But unlike other materials, it also has a high resistance to thermal shock thanks to a coefficient of thermal expansion that’s close to zero, and strong transmission in the IR range. NEXTREMA® also has a high level of mechanical and bending strength, without the need for additional toughening processes, which is particularly important when it’s used in an industrial environment. It’s this combination of material properties that makes NEXTREMA® a real all-round talent.
How can NEXTREMA® offer so many different properties in a single material?
NEXTREMA® doesn’t just come in one form – it’s available in six different variants. Each variant has its own set of material properties, including temperature resistance, IR transmission, and chemical resistance, and is suitable for a number of different applications.
For instance, NEXTREMA® transparent has the highest resistance to temperature shock of the six available variants – up to 820 °C – as well as high transmission in the shortwave infrared range. Along with its transparency, this makes it ideal for cover plates for radiant heating elements and inspection windows for high-temperature industrial processes.
Another interesting variant is NEXTREMA® translucent bluegrey, which offers high resistance to temperature, chemicals, and mechanical stress, as well as an attractive tint that allows designers and architects to add a splash of color to their designs.
What do you enjoy about working with NEXTREMA®?
It’s the large variety of applications it is used in. On the one side you have industrial applications, such as carrier plates in high temperature furnaces for the manufacture of AMOLED displays or in smart laboratories, while on the other, end-user applications such as cover panels for IR terrace heaters.
As they are often subjected to harsh environments, IR heaters particularly benefit from the protection of NEXTREMA® panels against mechanical impacts or aggressive chemical environments. The panel protects the heating element but allows a large amount of IR transmission, providing a powerful source of heat.
In the future, the machine equipment industry is a very interesting area for NEXTREMA® because it’s there that its material properties really pay off. In equipment such as high temperature furnaces you have very sharp heating and cooling cycles, which don’t harm NEXTREMA®, so the material has a very long lifetime.
We are also in discussions about another exciting application that I unfortunately cannot disclose yet. But that’s what makes NEXTREMA® so interesting for me as a product manager. On the one hand you have a lot of industrial applications, but on the other you have a certain end-consumer visibility.
What is the typical enquiry from NEXTREMA® customers?
There is no typical enquiry! They are all different. Many have seen NEXTREMA® used in say, a terrace heater, and want similar properties for their application, but there are others that don’t necessarily know that NEXTREMA® could solve their problem. They approach us with a challenge they need to overcome, and as we talk together, we realize that NEXTREMA® is the solution. Thanks to its combination of properties, NEXTREMA® may solve problems that customers didn’t even know they had.
What feedback do you get from your NEXTREMA® customers?
Our customers already know SCHOTT and the amount of glass expertise we have, so they definitely appreciate our knowledge of glass-ceramics and their applications. We are much more than just a material provider. We work closely with our customers, finding solutions in areas that we are experienced in, as well as some that are new to us.
We have established a well-known brand in the respective industries with NEXTREMA®, and customers want to have the NEXTREMA® logo on their products so they can promote the fact that they are using our German-engineered glass-ceramic. From my perspective as a product manager and from a marketing perspective that’s fantastic, because people really see the advantages of the material.
Roberto Perez Castro
Head of NEXTREMA® Product Management