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5/9/2018 | 1 MINUTE READ

BASF Emphasizes Unique Highly-Reinforced Compounds & Additive Manufacturing

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Material supplier is aiming to address the z-direction strength limitation of layered components produced with 3D printing.

NPE2018 Exhibitor

BASF Corporation

Booth: S15023

View Showroom

“Our industry continues to find opportunities to replace traditional materials with plastic composites as we have seen over the last decades,” says Mark Minnichelli, director, technical development, BASF Performance Materials.

Emphasizing the continuing interest in fiber-reinforced thermoplastics and composites in areas such as automotive, he adds, “We are seeing a growing interest in various combinations and types of glass fibers and carbon fibers. We have a couple of automotive projects underway exploring carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics, and we anticipate greater interest as prices of carbon fiber drop further.” He notes that such thermoplastic composites have been successfully used in grille opening reinforcers and are being explored for structural oil pans and other structural applications.

On the glass-fiber front, Minnichelli confirms there is continued exploration with higher glass content polyamides, for example. “We are moving from the typical 30-35% glass content to as high as 50-55%, to achieve extra stiffness and strength to address new opportunities.” He sees the lightweighting trend in automotive continuing and further bolstered by both electric and autonomous vehicles.

Yet another area being emphasized at Booth S15023, and not surprisingly when one considers the breadth of materials and additives technology BASF offers, is 3D printing. The company is highlighting its partnership in this arena with a creator of specialty filaments, Essentium Materials, College Station, Texas.

Minnichelli tells Plastics Technology the company has made some major investments toward the development of high-performance materials for 3D printing. He adds that the company’s broad polyamide portfolio and know-how is one focus, as is the popular FFS/FDM type process, but stresses that BASF in interested in providing materials for a range of additive manufacturing processes. “One of the Achilles heels of layered processes is z-direction strength limitation of the layered component. We are focusing on addressing this.”

An expansion of the company’s patented Ultrasim predictive simulation technology said to outperform other analysis technologies—it boasts a 90-95% accuracy in predicting performance in metal-to-plastic conversion—is also underway. BASF has successfully adapted it to address foaming performance of polyurethanes and is also exploring its use for similar predictive assessment of injection molded TPUs, for new application opportunities.