BASF's designfabrikTM is offering a new tool to designers and development engineers working in automotive design. The "Material Kit" is an attractively designed sample case that displays a large proportion of BASF's know-how in materials: Organized on the basis of feel, appearance and function, the Material Kit presents more than 30 different BASF products in the form of 4 x 6 cm samples that can be touched and felt.
As a result, designers can get a real feel for the BASF products they are considering for their automobile interior design concepts. In addition, text cards provide brief yet precise information on the materials' properties and specific uses. The materials can be examined, touched and compared, be they satin- or leather-like finishes, rigid or flexible polyurethane surfaces, foams, coatings, pigments, ceramic powders for injection molding or high-performance thermoplastic resins. As an application-oriented instrument, the Material Kit gives designers a feeling for the material from the very beginning of the creative development process.
BASF introduced the Material Kit to initial customers at the end of 2009. In October 2010, the innovative kit was honored by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE Europe, 10th Automotive Award) with its "Grand Innovation Award" in the Image / Product Brochure category for its novel approach and high-quality execution.
A different kind of brochure: Touch and feel instead of technical data sheets
In the course of converting the idea into reality, the BASF team around Sandra Hermanns, designer in the designfabrik, and Mathias Bischer, Key Account Manager Automotive, was supported by the Cologne-based design agency ARE WE DESIGNER/European Design Hasardeure. The goal of the developers was to specifically tailor the Material Kit to the needs of automotive designers and manner in which they work. For instance, it does not employ the language found in technical data sheets: the focus is initially on experiencing and touching the material.
Easy-to-understand symbols on the samples and text cards provide additional information. Color-coded symbols associated with the categories of feel, appearance and function explain the six most important design-specific properties of each product. The total of 18 possible attributes encompass cool and soft touch, gloss and scratch resistance, transparency, thermal and dimensional stability, UV and chemical resistance as well as suitability for use in delicate structures or the ability to impart a special sound. In addition, the Material Kit lists well-established as well as newer processing techniques briefly and in simple terms,and provides the direct contact to the appropriate BASF expert
All of the materials in the kit are suitable for automotive applications and are already in use in many vehicles since they satisfy the industry's demanding requirements. A modular design makes it possible to include new product samples or information and carry out regular updates. Available in both German and English, for designers who work in the car and commercial vehicle sectors, the kit can be an essential aid in the early design phase when materials are first being considered.