BASF program to manufacture semifinished auto composites

Launching in October, BASF's Ultracom program combines continuous fiber reinforced semi-finished products, adapted overmolding compounds and engineering support to go with both.

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BASF AG (Ludwigshafen, Germany) reported in late June that it is launching a new product and service package for the automotive industry in October under the trademark Ultracom. The package comprises three components: continuous fiber-reinforced semifinished products, adapted overmolding compounds and engineering support to go with both.

The key products in the first component are laminates based on woven fabrics and unidirectional (UD) tapes that are fully impregnated with Ultramid polyamide or Ultradur PBT resins manufactured by BASF. These thermoplastic composites are being enhanced in cooperation with thermoplastics and prepreg specialist TenCate Advanced Composites BV (Nijverdal, The Netherlands) and glass fiber manufacturer Owens Corning (Toledo, Ohio).

Ultracom’s second component consists of overmolding materials developed specifically for use with the composite laminates. These materials are also from the Ultramid and Ultradur product lines, this time in the form of compounds. BASF says that by using them in combination with the laminates and tapes, it is possible to injection mold complex parts that have very high mechanical reinforcement because continuous fiber reinforcement can be placed at well-defined locations.

For applications that require high stiffness, the package consists of an Ultralaminate based on polyamide 6 (or an Ultratape, if the application calls for highly directed reinforcements) in combination with Ultramid G12 COM, with 60 percent glass fiber reinforcement. For crash-loaded applications with a special need for impact strength, BASF offers a package that consists of Ultralaminate and Ultramid ZG7 COM. In this case, the Ultratape version exists for local reinforcement — for example, as required in seat structures. It can be overmolded with the same Ultramid ZG7 COM.

The third component, engineering support, includes design assistance, simulation help via BASF’s Ultrasim software and processing support. To demonstrate the technology, BASF has installed at its technical center an automated pilot line that combines an injection molding system with automated laminate feeding.

BASF says it will give itself and the automotive industry three years to develop production concepts for body and chassis parts and intends to spend a “high two-digit million euro sum” on R&D.