BASF supplies material for BMW steering column module

French automotive supplier Valeo (Paris, France) has developed a top steering column module with housing and levers made of BASF SE’s (Ludwigschafen, Germany) trademarked engineering plastics, for BMW vehicles.

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It is not just the steering wheel that has a major influence on the driving experience, but also the “top column module” that connects the steering wheel with the control unit. French automotive supplier Valeo (Paris, France) has now developed a top column module with housing and levers made of BASF SE’s (Ludwigschafen, Germany) trademarked engineering plastics Ultramid polyamide and Ultradur polybutylene terephthalate. The new module is about 20 percent lighter than the previous model and benefits from good surface finish, UV resistance and the good mechanical performance of the BASF materials. The top column module is used by the BMW Group in its BMW 3 to 7 series vehicles with rear-wheel drive.

“Our steering columns are based on a highly developed, integrated design and therefore adapt perfectly to the particular car interior architecture,” says Jochen Foeßel, responsible for part optimization and plastic injection molds at Valeo. “In order to create a stable, functional and visually appealing top column module, we were able to select exactly the right materials from BASF’s wide range of engineering plastics as well as benefit from BASF’s service covering all aspects of component design, material development and processing.” For the indicator and windshield wiper levers Valeo uses the 50% glass fiber-filled surface polyamide Ultramid B3EG10 SI (SI= surface improved). For the two-part core module it employs the PBTs Ultradur B 4520 and Ultradur B 4300 G4. The latter is processed by the company Buck Spritzgussteile Formenbau (Flachslanden, Germany) using the MuCell in-mold foaming process.

The surface polyamide is used in surface components that not only need to look attractive, but must also be dimensionally stable and UV-resistant. The material was originally developed for the furniture industry, where it is now used in numerous office chairs. “We were initially slightly surprised that BASF offered us a material developed for furniture,” says Jochen Foeßel. “But we were won over by the homogeneous, shiny surface finish as soon as we saw it. And the excellent mechanics and UV resistance were confirmed in the tests we did.” Valeo carried out the tests on the resistance of car interior components in accordance with DIN EN ISO 1043-1/GS 93016.

The lower carrier housing made from Ultradur B 4300 G4, which is reinforced with 20 percent glass fibers, and manufactured by Buck Spritzgussteile Formenbau. The MuCell foaming process involves adding nitrogen to the polymer melt during injection molding, which leads to the formation of a foam structure. As a result, the weight of the component is reduced by around ten percent and the dimensional stability is increased without any adverse effect on rigidity and chemical resistance. The upper top column module housing, on which the steering wheel is mounted, is made from the unreinforced PBT Ultradur B 4520, noted for low water uptake and therefore high dimensional stability at high temperatures. This well-balanced combination of properties is the basis for ensuring that the steering wheel can be mounted safely on the top column module, says BASF.

For more information, contact the Ultraplaste-Infopoint: ultraplaste.infopoint@basf.com, +49 621 60 78780.