Ludwigshafen, Gemany -- BASF has set up a team for lightweight composites, to show its commitment to the growing importance of lightweight design in the automotive industry.
The group will focus on development of marketable materials and technologies suitable for manufacturing high-performance fibre-reinforced parts for automotive uses.
BASF said more metal can be replaced "only through use of lightweight yet strong composite materials and parts, and in this way - regardless of the propulsion system in the vehicle - reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions even further."
The group can investigate three different plastic matrix systems simultaneously, inlcuding polyurethane, and said it intends to develop tailor-made formulations in close cooperation with customers.
"We can build here on BASF's know-how in the areas of epoxy, polyurethane and polyamide chemistry, want to exploit the synergies in the team and will be making a double-digit million euro investment in development in the coming years", explained Willy Hoven-Nievelstein, BASF's head of the Engineering Plastics Europe business unit, in a BASF announcement.
For these uses, Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) is a valuable technology and can be used to produce large, complex composite components in a single press-form operation, BASF notes. This involves placing multilayer fibre structures in a heated mould, mounted in a press. A liquid resin is then injected into the mould, wetting the fibres completely, and is then cured in a controlled manner.
In its newly established RTM laboratory in Ludwigshafen and at its polyurethane research facility in Lemfoerde, BASF experts are working on the chemical and technical challenges posed by the new matrix solutions. The automobile components to be produced from these materials in the future will be able to withstand high loads despite their light weight.