Concept car illustrates the potential of PU foam technology for automotive interiors

Swiss polyurethane foam specialist FoamPartner has partnered with compatriot Rinspeed, the automotive industry think tank and mobility lab, to develop advanced concepts for the mobility of tomorrow. The microSNAP concept car developed by Rinspeed illustrates the potential of innovative foam technology for automotive interiors as well as acoustic and thermal insulation.

Presented first early this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and now making its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show, the microSNAP benefits from several innovative foam solutions. FoamPartner specializes in solutions for high-quality, low-emission and low-odor applications based on polyurethane ester and polyurethane ether foams. These are developed by its Acoustic & Thermal Solutions (A&TS) business unit as well as its Automotive Rolls (AR) business unit for automotive interiors, e.g. headliners, door panels and arm rests.

Besides interior aesthetics, PU foam can deliver acoustic and thermal insulations, something that is indispensable in next-generation electric vehicles.

hile engine sound-proofing is paramount for conventional combustion vehicles, considerably quieter electric vehicles have an increased need for reducing the rolling and wind noises transmitted into the passenger compartment. At the same time, thermal insulation is becoming ever more important to protect the battery from heat and cold and minimize the energy consumed for heating and air conditioning.

“The automotive world is undergoing radical change,” says Kay Kosar, Vice President of the Acoustics & Thermal Solutions (A&TS) global business unit at FoamPartner. “Smart cities, autonomous driving, car sharing, and artificial intelligence are all demanding visionary mobility solutions. The growing electrification of road traffic, including the use of information technology and sensor systems in modern vehicles, shows a clear trend towards encompassing and value-added concepts that will provide significant benefits in both transportation and driving experience.”

The microSNAP illustrates this comprehensive approach by means of a chassis with an electric drive and variable superstructures, including a robotized change station, all targeted at the autonomous local transport of goods and people. “The passenger compartment module has all the features required for tomorrow’s smart passenger transport, such as a digital cockpit, a voice assistant and, last but not least, a durable, rugged yet comfortable interior design,” says Frank M. Rinderknecht, CEO of Rinspeed AG.

 “FoamPartner is a small but extremely customer-focused niche supplier,” Kosar emphasizes. “We offer tailored solutions that make use of our expertise in polyurethane foam materials and processing, through to prototyping. The partnership with Rinspeed fits perfectly in our existing network with other manufacturers and suppliers of the industry, and has already resulted in several further innovation projects.”

Among its various customer services, the application development operation at FoamPartner includes comprehensive facilities for 3D component simulation. For prototyping, non-woven, leather and other surfacing materials are sourced from qualified network partners. Foams and components can be tested in-house at the company’s Acoustic/Thermo Center.

The microSNAP can be seen on Rinspeed’s booth, 6240, during the Geneva International Motor Show, which runs until March 17.

 

 

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