BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) will feature a number of material and manufacturing solutions for applications in the automotive, wind and marine markets.
The first part featured is the BMW i3 seat pan, manufactured from carbon fibers and a polyurethane (PU) matrix. The self-supporting rear seat pan for the BMW i3 was produced using the Elastolit PU system from BASF by the automotive supplier F.S. Fehrer Automotive. Here, carbon fiber materials were used in combination with a PU matrix for the first time in a production vehicle. The component integrates a variety of functions such as a cupholder mount and storage shelf, eliminating assembly operations and saving weight. Elastolit from BASF is characterized by its wide process window as well as high fatigue strength and damage tolerance. Thanks to the special properties of the material, the crash-relevant part fulfills the strict safety requirements of BMW despite its wall thickness of 1.4 mm/0.05 inch.
Machinery manufacturer Mahr Metering Systems (Charlotte, N.C., USA) and BASF have been jointly developing material and system solutions for the T-RTM process (thermoplastic resin transfer molding). At JEC, Mahr will exhibit an initial prototype of a self-cleaning mixing head that is part of a machine concept for processing reactive polyamide by means of inexpensive low-pressure RTM technology. The goal is to develop a robust and automatic system with short cycle times that is suitable for high-volume production.
At the same time, BASF has been optimizing its first reactive polyamide systems for these economically relevant, fast production cycles. These are two-component systems based on caprolactam, an appropriate additive system and fibers with compatible sizings. These systems feature low viscosity and long flow paths compared to other reactive resins, making them especially suitable for low-pressure RTM technology. Through this joint effort, the two companies hope to facilitate the introduction of anionic polymerizing polyamide 6 to the market – for volume production of structural thermoplastic composite components.
Exhibiting a kayak as an example, BASF, with the Munich, Germany-based industrial designer Jan Haluszka, will demonstrate that the vacuum infusion technique is suitable for manufacturing thermoplastic composite parts from reactive thermoplastics systems. With a length of more than 2.6m, the exhibited boat is one of the largest parts produced to date from reactive polyamide by means of vacuum infusion. Using a vacuum of 0.9 bar, it was possible to fill the part with the low-viscosity, two-component system in only 60 seconds. The feasibility study showed that the vacuum infusion technique could indeed be an option for developing large thermoplastic composites from reactive polyamide systems.
Finally, what is said to be the first fiber-reinforced composite prototype from Volkswagen, produced using a reactive polyamide system from BASF with high-pressure RTM equipment, will be exhibited as well. The part, a B-pillar reinforcement, is 36 percent lighter than the steel version currently used in production.
For wind energy manfuacturing, BASF will feature winding technology and pultrusion for rotor blade production, with a new epoxy system and polyurethane resin. BASF says root segments for rotor blades can be manufactured via filament winding technology. With its Baxxodur System 6100, BASF is able to offer a new epoxy system for the special requirements of this technology. The system is said to exhibit good impregnation characteristics and has an open time that permits production of larger parts. To securely attach the root of the rotor blade to the hub of the wind turbine, a fiber-reinforced component made from Elastocoat C6226-100 PU resin by means of pultrusion can be used. BASF developed this resin to manufacture pultruded rods with its partner Fiberline Composites A/S in Denmark. Pultrusion allows better alignment of the fibers as well as inline incorporation of a threaded metal bushing. This is said to ensure high production quality and an extremely stable part. Furthermore, fewer process steps are needed in production, which reduces the manufacturing time and material costs. The pultruded part produced from the Elastocoat material and a 12-cm thick root ring manufactured from glass fiber-reinforced Baxxodur will be exhibited at the BASF stand.
BASF will also present the cross-section of a wind turbine rotor blade that is intended to demonstrate the range of products and solutions available from the company for rotor blade manufacturing, from the Baxxodur epoxy resin system through Kerdyn PET (polyethylene terephthalate) structural foam and RELEST gel coat system to Elastan semi-structural polyurethane adhesive. Under static and dynamic loads, the PET foam ensures stability. For this reason it is primarily used inside rotor blades. Kerdyn is certified by German Lloyd and available in densities of 80, 100 and 115 kg/m3. Besides the wind power industry, the PET foam is also used in the transportation, construction and marine industries.
Next to the rotor blade cross-section in the stand will be a spar cap, manufactured with carbon fibers immersed in Baxxodur. Because of their strength and rigidity, these spar caps are being used increasingly for large rotor blades. During the infusion process, the Baxxodur system ensures fast and complete impregnation of the carbon fiber layers.