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The coolest thing I saw at the K today: The camping van of the future

BASF presents concept vehicle VisionVenture at K2019; the engineering plastic supplier's innovative materials and development expertise open up new dimensions in lightweight construction, independence, travel experience and design.

Stephen Moore

October 17, 2019

5 Min Read
The coolest thing I saw at the K today: The camping van of the future

The VisionVenture, co-created by BASF and Hymer, represents a near-production glimpse into the future of van life. Using the development expertise of the BASF Creation Center, a new class of van has been created that blazes a trail in lightweight construction, independence, travel experience and design. The vehicle premiered at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Germany, at the end of August. Now, BASF is presenting the VisionVenture at K 2019 (Hall 5, Stand C21/D21).

The VisionVenture, co-created by BASF and Hymer, is a near-production glimpse into the future of van life.

“Our products give the designers unprecedented new options and functionalities for the VisionVenture,” explains Martin Jung, Head of Performance Materials at BASF. “The end result demonstrates the full diversity of our material competence – from inspiration to finished product.”

More than 20 BASF high-performance plastics are used in the concept camper. These impress with a huge range of properties. For example, BASF and Hymer use various innovative lightweight materials and processes in the interior and exterior, providing greater comfort while also making the vehicle more robust. The VisionVenture also sets new benchmarks when it comes to design – for example by combining plastics with natural materials such as hemp and slate. Solutions for energy management, thermal insulation and electrical components, a tailored package of measures for preventing noises and vibrations, and more than 100 3D-printed components round off the vision of modern travel.

BASF used a range of 3D printing techniques to realize more than 100 components for the interior and exterior of the VisionVenture, including wheel arch linings, bodywork parts, lampshades, handles, hooks and tablet-holders. Whether the components are large or small, hard or soft, carbon fiber-reinforced or transparent, untreated or painted, this digital production method is a fast and cost-efficient solution for individual parts and small batches. The 3D printed wheel arches and other components such as the sills and balcony of the VisionVenture are protected by the polyurea spray coating Elastocoat C, which gives lasting protection from stains, scratches or impact damage from stones.

BASF’s Ultramid Advanced semi-aromatic high-performance polyamides are particularly light and strong. The product group has good rigid and solid properties, even when exposed to high temperatures. The polyamides also retain their mechanical stability, making them ideal for use in the engine or engine compartment. Ultramid Advanced T1000 and Ultramid Advanced N are additionally resistant to hydrolysis and there-fore the perfect choice for the pipework in the VisionVenture’s kitchen and shower installations.

A key contributor to the van’s cozy feel is Haptex, a polyurethane system for imitation leather, which spans the entire interior. This material feels pleasantly soft and is available in a range of colors and textures. It is also extremely easy to clean and does not contain organic solvents. On top: Two pendant luminaires with diffusers made from the translucent material Ultramid Vision. As well as directing a focused light beam onto the table, the lights, which are hidden within the ceiling, also function as downlighters to brighten the entire interior. Ultramid Vision is scratch-proof and extremely resistant to chemicals.

Infinergy expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU), primarily associated with the Energy Boost running shoe from adidas, appears in jet black for the first time in the VisionVenture. In the steps and the bed frame, the E-TPU gives pressure point relief together with pleasing aesthetics. As a connection module, it holds the slats in the slatted base together, resulting in an excellent, individually adjustable mattress base on account of its high material resilience. This effect is also maintained in the event of a continuous load; this is known as “rebound.”

To make traveling as relaxing as possible, the pillows and mattresses used in the VisionVenture are just as comfortable as those you would have at home. The memory effect of the CosyPUR molded flexible foam ensures optimum comfort. The polyurethane material has special properties that can be set using cell morphology from ultra-soft to viscoelastic. The material is also air-permeable, breathable and machine-washable, and retains its properties even after long-term use.

Meanwhile, to avoid any compromises in comfort on the open road, BASF and Hymer have come up with a customized NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) package for the VisionVenture. The compact, microcellular polyurethane Cellasto is used to reduce vibrations and block noise in the interior, drive or chassis. Specifically for off-road adventures, the developers have fitted the VisionVenture with a special Cellasto solution for vibration decoupling and structure support of the chassis, combining driving safety with dynamics and comfort.

The VisionVenture's self-inflating pop-top roof is a world first and one of the van’s most striking features. It inflates in less than 60 seconds, creating more living space than ever before. The Elastollan thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) coating on the roof creates an outer wall that is resistant to water as well as wind and guarantees a peaceful night’s sleep at a pleasant temperature. The cushions and mattresses in the VisionVenture will also remain pleasantly fresh and cool even on the hottest day. This is down to the temperature-regulating effect of the Elastocoat C Spray Gel, which adheres effectively to all PU foams and can be applied to different mattress surfaces, at different places and in variable thicknesses.

Further, BASF has combined its two innovative high-performance insulating materials Slentex non-combustible aerogel mat based entirely on mineral raw materials and Slentite polyurethane-based aerogel in the VisionVenture. The solid panel material Slentite is used in refrigeration equipment, door panels, window frame profiles and sub-floors. It can be easily cut to size and also provides the required stability for use in off-road vehicles. The highly efficient, safe and space-saving properties of Slentex provide heat protection for the battery, engine compartment, oven and hob in the VisionVenture. The insulating material is very effective in preventing the spread of sparks or fire, thanks to its non-combustible properties. Another advantage: Both materials do not show any effects of aging during their service life.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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