BASF enters semi-finished parts market

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Hall 05 | Booth C21+D21

Visitors to K show will have the opportunity to see various new products from BASF. The Ultracom range represents BASF’s first foray into the market for composite semi-finished parts for the auto sector. The range was announced at a K show press conference by Dr Andreas Wollny, Head of the high-performance lightweight design teamfor the Engineering Plastics Europe business unit of the chemical company. His presentation highlighted the ongoing weight saving trend in the auto sector, which is becoming increasingly important in the run-up to 2020, the year that European auto manufacturers have to meet significantly more stringent CO2 emissions regulations.

Ultracom – a three-part package

Ultracom is described as a package of three components. They are: continuous fibre reinforced semi-finished products; adapted overmoulding compounds and BASF support. The key developments in the products are laminates based on woven fabrics and unidirectional (UD) tapes that are fully impregnated with Ultramid or Ultradur polyamide and PBT materials. These thermoplastic composites are being enhanced in a development partnership with TenCate, the fibre reinforced composites manufacturer, and glass fibre supplier Owens Corning. The overmoulding materials that have been developed specifically for use with these laminates are also from the Ultramid and Ultradur product lines, but in the form of compounds. By using them in combination with the laminates and tapes, it is possible to injection mould complex parts that have high mechanical reinforcement by use of continuous fibres at precisely defined locations while simultaneously incorporating specific functions.

By K 2013 BASF will be offering its first commercial Ultracom product packages. For parts with high stiffness, the package will consist of an Ultralaminate based on PA6, or an Ultratape if highly directed reinforcements are needed, combined with Ultramid G12 COM with 60% glass fibre reinforcement as overmoulding compound. The package for crash loaded applications consists of Ultralaminate and Ultramid ZG7 COM, with Ultratape for local reinforcement. The first Ultracom pre-production parts will be on show at K 2013.

BASF’s Ultracom range includes continuous fibre reinforced semi-finished products, adapted overmoulding compounds and appropriate engineering support.

New development cell

The commitment to engineering support goes beyond aftersales service. BASF has installed a high-capacity composite production system in its technical centre for thermoplastics processing. Since it went operational in March 2013, the equipment has been used to produce multifunctional composite test specimens by means of the in-mould forming/overmoulding process. The company says that this process offers the most promising approach for production of structural components from laminates and injection moulding compounds. Laminate forming takes place in the mould, and is followed by overmoulding.

The company has also developed its own combined in-mould forming and overmoulding (CIFO) part as a multifunctional test specimen for investigating and jointly developing continuous-fibre reinforced composite parts for volume production. The manufacturing cell at Ludwigshafen is set up for near-real-world production of continuous-fibre reinforced thermoplastic composite parts and consists of a six-axis robot; an automatic insertion frame for the laminate; an infrared heating station and a KraussMaffei KM 300 1400C2, 3000kN hydraulic injection moulding machine.

BASF has installed a high-capacity composite production system in Ludwigshafen as part of its new Ultracom product and service package.

New Ultradur grades

Along with the new developments, BASF will be exhibiting extensions to and developments of existing product ranges. The company says that its Ultradur HR (hydrolysis-resistant) grades provide optimised PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) materials that are able to withstand hydrolysis under damp environmental conditions and are suitable for components which have a particularly long service life and operate under intensive conditions. Its two new Ultradur grades combine a high level of hydrolysis resistance with integrated flame retardance and laser transparency. They have been proven to not only customary test standards but also to Uscar class 5 climatic cycling tests, which are now prescribed for components such as plugs and connectors. The material has been subjected to extended climate exposure tests (for instance, 8,000h at 85°C and 85% humidity) and 4,000h thermal ageing. Ultradur B4330 G6 HR has 30% glass fibre reinforcement; Ultradur B4330 G3 HR has 15%. Both grades are substantially more hydrolysis-resistant than products without HR finish.

Hydrolysis-resistant PBT Ultradur HR has passed Uscar class 5 climatic cycling tests.

Hydrolysis-resistant PBT Ultradur HR has passed Uscar class 5 climatic cycling tests.

Flexible Ultramid

K Show 2013 will see the premiere of two new grades of its Ultramid S Balance PA610 fibre reinforced injection moulding material, which was first presented at K 2010. The new grades, Ultramid S4Z5 Balance and Ultramid S4Z4 XS Balance, are flexible and are suitable for extrusion of pipe and tubing intended for use in the automotive and machinery sectors, as well as for oil and gas lines. The two long-chain polyamide compounds have especially low moisture uptake, good resistance to chemicals and stress cracking and low-temperature impact strength. The formulations for the two new compounds use a high-viscosity PA6.10, modified to achieve good low-temperature impact strength. Ultramid S4Z5 Balance is a semi-flexible grade for liquid-conveying lines that must satisfy demanding temperature requirements, while Ultramid S4Z4 XS Balance is a particularly flexible product for vacuum and vent lines. They will be available in sample quantities from November 2013.

Ultimate endurance

Finally, BASF is introducing Ultramid Endure D5G3 BM, a blow-moulding grade of its Ultramid Endure heat-resistant range, which was first launched in 2010. Endure D3G7, which is suitable for injection moulding, was added in 2012. Ultramid Endure D5G3 BM has a glass fibre content of 15%, offers high heat aging resistance, and is claimed to be both easy to process, and to possess good acoustic properties. Temperature resistance is 220°C during continuous use, 240°C peak. The relatively low melt temperature during processing with blow moulding generally results in favourable system costs. BASF asserts that Ultramid Endure performs significantly better than polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). The new grade obtains its heat stabilisation characteristic from an established technology that suppresses attack by atmospheric oxygen and pervades the whole material, which allows the machining that might be needed in the case of connections.

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