Composites Europe was staged recently in Stuttgart, Germany, providing the backdrop for the unveiling of a customer prototype demonstrating BASF's (Ludwigshafen, Germany) recently announced Ultracom product and service concept for composite structures.
Rear seatback (top) is first customer prototype using BASF's Ultracom portfolio. CIFO (Combination of Inmold-Forming and Overmolding) sample part (bottom) shows the flexibility of this process.
The prototype is a rear seatback from Johnson Controls Automotive Seating based on Ultralaminate, one of the new continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic woven fabrics that is overmolded with Ultramid ZG7 COM, a specially formulated, high-impact modified polyamide (PA) 6. During development, the extensive simulation know-how of BASF was provided as part of the Ultracom package. Compared to the current metal version, the complex composite part provides weight savings of more than 30%.
In addition, BASF will showcase a part fabricated using its CIFO (Combination of Inmold-Forming and Overmolding) process. It was developed by BASF to fully exploit all possibilities of composite part design with Ultracom in its new manufacturing cell.
The multifunctional test part for studying continuous fiber-reinforced composite components with the objective of volume production consists of a 1.5-mm-thick formed laminate and up to 3-mm-thick molded-on functional elements such as ribs and edges. Using this part, with its approximately 20 individual functionalities, BASF says that it is possible to demonstrate the characteristics of composite part manufacturing. Special features of the component include sealing around the edges, long flow paths, formed holes, a rib array, multiply molded-through elements, and a ribbed U-profile beam.
In addition to PA resin, the multi-material Lightweight Composite Team at BASF is also developing continuous fiber-reinforced composite concepts based on polyurethane and epoxy resin systems for structural and semi-structural applications. The company exhibited its new Baxxodur System 2202 epoxy resin, developed specifically for high-pressure RTM (resin transfer molding), in the form of a carbon fiber-reinforced fender demonstrator. The epoxy resin system cures at 120°C with a demolding time of only 2.5 minutes, exhibits good mechanical properties and has a wide processing window.
Finally, BASF showed a sandwich panel with glass fiber-reinforced laminate based on the Baxxodur epoxy resin system and a foam core made from a new, especially fatigue-resistant version of Elastolit polyurethane (PU)foam. For this, the team at BASF Polyurethanes GmbH (Lemförde, Germany) modified the properties of the previously rather brittle PU foam for use in the sandwich: a four-point bending test validated the significantly improved dynamic properties and high impact strength. This PU molded foam system allows producing complex geometry foams in a single shot and as such complements the new BASF Kerdyn PET foam.