In the year of the plastics fair K 2010, BASF is presenting many new engineering plastics. Via the connection of property-performance relations with microstructures the new products are directly transformed into customer specific materials. Among them are laser weldable, highly heat resistant, new flame retardant and high-load materials.
Today, customers of engineering plastics do actually not ask for new materials so much anymore, but rather for solutions to their problems. Faced with such requirements, plastics not only have to provide ever more specific performance profiles - the plastic supplier must also accompany them with a comprehensive and competent service package that is part of the solution. Thus, the fields of application are narrowing, while becoming more challenging, and increasing in number.
Thanks to the combination of high-performance engineering plastics with optimized simulation methods such as ULTRASIM, BASF succeeded to advance very well into this direction. Complex high load and safety components like oil pans, stabilizers, engine mounts and structures that protect pedestrians have been developed by the company together with its customers. The limits that have now been reached, e.g. in the context of metal substitution in the car, can only be overcome by new methods.
Technologically seen, BASF's new approach is to tailor material properties through use of controlled microstructures and in this way achieve suitable relationships between properties and performance. Moreover, the researchers have discovered that some of these technologies can be combined, yielding a "blend of interactive mechanisms". These products are then tailor-made for specific customer requirements and the application profile. This allows reacting more flexibly to the needs of the market.
The outcome of these research activities are first of all new specialties in the polyamide (PA) and PBT portfolio. Among them is an Ultramid (PA) for the high temperatures in the charge-air duct, which can well compete with more expensive high performance plastics of a completely different chemistry or an Ultradur (PBT) which is highly flame retardant, light in color but which, nevertheless, must not contain halogens. In addition there is an Ultramid with a strength close to metal but which keeps all the classical plastic benefits, or an Ultradur that - contrary to long-held beliefs - is very well laser weldable and offers an enormous gain in efficiency.
With many newly created product names like Ultradur Endure, Ultramid Structure, Ultradur FRee or Ultradur LUX, the company shows that true milestones have been reached, else BASF would not use new trade names for its engineering plastics.