PU foam for thin and light instrument panels
BASF has been supplying PU systems for foam-backed instrument panels for many years. The production process involves injecting a polyurethane foam between the outer skin and the support of the instrument panel, bonding the surface and support material together. The PU foam produces a material that has a very soft haptic and offers good adhesion to surfaces produced from a wide range of materials. According to BASF, the PU systems are also suitable for PVC skins.
A new series of PU systems in the Elastoflex E product group now allows significant weight reductions with foam densities of around 120 g/L without sacrificing any of the characteristics of these foams. Up to 30 % of the foam weight can be saved, depending on the component geometry, said the company. With its robust and fine cell-structure, this Thin-Light system can be used for components with a smaller profile of less than 5 mm. This results in very light and thin instrument panels or door elements, which offer scope for new design options.
“The new PU systems save weight, and are designed to incorporate sensors or control elements,” explained Marc Martin, automobile interiors expert in the Performance Materials division of BASF. “We've also managed to reduce the emission values even further and simplify the use of lasers for airbag weakening.”
BASF has also developed a PU system based on castor oil, a renewable raw material: Elastoflex E 3496/102 can be used to produce complex components that are both light and thin with good adhesion to a wide range of surfaces. This development was awarded the SPE Environmental Category Award at the end of 2017. The project shared the prize for sustainable innovation with International Automotive Components (IAC).