BASF, a chemical company, has collaborated with voestalpine Plastics Solutions, a producer of plastic parts for the automotive industry, and Bekaert, a Belgium-based company specialized in advanced solutions based on metal transformation and coatings, to develop reinforced injection molded thermoplastic parts with steel cord inserts.
The three companies have been investigating on the development since 2010. Their main aim is to develop the new Energy Absorption, Safety and Integrity (EASI) technology with the automotive industry partners. The first part that has been produced using the technology was based on compression molding with glass mat reinforced thermoplastics (GMT).
At present, the companies are working on traditional injection molding of plastic automotive components using steel cord reinforcement. As a part of the collaborative project, BASF continues to develop its Ultramid short or long fiber-reinforced thermoplastic polyamides for application with the steel cord inserts. In addition, the company is improving its Ultrasim simulation tool using representation techniques and material models for the innovative composite materials. The project combines voestalpine Plastics Solutions’ capability in the processing technology and production of parts using injection molding with Bekaert’s know-how in the production of steel cord fabrics.
The use of steel cord inserts ensures structural integrity of the injection molded plastic components. Therefore, in a crash situation, EASI components will still have the ability to absorb and distribute energy. This is in contrast with injection molded plastic automotive parts with conventional reinforcements, such as continuous fiber-reinforced laminates and glass or carbon fiber fabrics, which typically fail on crash.