By Dr. Cameron Chai
BASF has displayed the world’s first smart thermoplastic wheel rim for the automobile industry at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany. smart and BASF will also feature the “smart forvision” vehicle concept at the Fakuma plastics trade show that is to be held in Friedrichshafen, Germany from October 18 to 22.
BASF has introduced the world’s first production-ready thermoplastic wheel rim.
When compared to a standard aluminum wheel, the thermoplastic wheel rim is lighter by more than 30% and it weighs just 6kg. The rim is made of BASF’s new Ultramid Structure specialty plastic material, which contributes to an overall reduction of the vehicle’s weight by 12kg. In addition, the composite material lowers fuel consumption when the vehicle is fitted with a conventional engine. The new wheel rim includes a supporting component and a cover that is made from the Ultramid composite plastic material.
BASF’s Ultramid Structure can endure high loads as it is toughened with long fibers. This long-fiber reinforcement makes the material more strong and it can be used as an alternative to metal in applications requiring high energy absorption such as engine mounts, battery holders, seat structures, crash absorbers and other structural components. Ultramid grade used in the “smart forvision” vehicle concept is more rigid, dimensionally stable and impact-resistant.
The rim has been designed using ULTRASIM simulation tool from BASF. The position and shape of the ribs in the thermoplastic rim can be predefined and perfected on the computer using a topology optimization without the design being compromized. The form of the all-plastic wheel had been previously defined in an initial design phase and required only slight modification on the actual component.