• Specialty business still closer to the customer;
• Products and new concepts for the automotive industry;
• Lifestyle with plastics and foams;
• Plastics for data and water current;
• The art of additivation and surface finishing;
• Polyurethanes in all forms: compact, foamed and coated.
Nearer to the customer with specialties
Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, gives an overview of the strategic alignment of the plastics business. BASF aims to continue growing faster than the market with its downstream plastics, as well as large-volume monomers and commodity polymers. By bundling all specialty polymers in the newly created Performance Materials division, the company has further strengthened its focus on the needs of its customers. BASF is strengthening its specialty polymer business with capacity expansions, new plants and acquisitions and is also investing in basic products for example MDI and TDI. By entering new growth markets like wind energy, BASF benefits from its Know-How Verbund. An innovative mass balance approach allows the company to offer existing products in the form of bio-based materials as well (P 290-291/13e).
The Operating Division Performance Materials is the new BASF platform for materials. As President of the Division, Raimar Jahn reports on organization, goals and the future of the Division, that has been newly created in January 2013. In keeping with differentiation on the basis of business model and customer requirements, units with a customer and industry sector focus are now separated more clearly from units that focus on chemistry and production. Performance Materials combines as never before in one entity material know-how and the innovative, customized plastics from BASF. By adopting this comprehensive approach and eliminating interfaces, it is possible to offer unique solutions and services. The goal is to continue to grow while remaining profitable, to serve the established sales markets even better, to participate in attractive growth markets and to develop new business activities. In the first quarter of 2013, sales in the new Performance Materials Division totaled 1.6 billion Euros (P 292, P 293/13e).
Products and new concepts for the automotive industry
BASF enters the market for composite semi-finished parts for the automotive sector
On the occasion of the plastics trade fair K 2013, BASF is expanding its activities in the field of engineering plastics for automotive construction to include a completely new approach. Ultracom™ is a package of three components: Continuous fiber reinforced semi-finished products, adapted overmolding compounds and the complementing engineering support. The key innovations in this new approach are laminates based on woven fabrics that are fully impregnated with Ultramid® or Ultradur®, the polyamide and PBT materials from BASF. The second component of the Ultracom package consists of the overmolding materials that have been developed individually for use with these laminates. The third component covers the extensive engineering support provided by the BASF application engineering group. With these materials and engineering support, BASF will take part actively in the further development of lightweight automotive construction with plastics (P 295/13e).
Simulation, processing and part testing for the new semi-finished composites
As part of this Ultracom package, BASF has installed a high-capacity composite production pilot plant in Ludwigshafen. Since March 2013, this equipment is being used to produce multifunctional composite test specimens by means of the in-mold forming/overmolding process. Central element of the cell is a six-axis robot with specific gripper arm. Moreover, the company has developed its own multi-functional test part: The so-called CIFO part (derived from Combination of in-mold forming and overmolding) makes it possible to investigate continuous-fiber reinforced composite parts for volume production in the manufacturing cell. The simulation instrument Ultrasim® is another part of the product and service package Ultracom. The capabilities of the simulation tool have been expanded so that the behavior of components made from thermoplastic laminates and overmolded polyamide can be calculated and predicted reliably (P 296/13e).
Ultramid Endure now also available as blow molding grade
The most heat-resistant, polyamide-based injection-molding material in the market is now also available as blow-molding grade. The new grade is called Ultramid® Endure BM and has the same stabilization technology as the injection-molding type Ultramid Endure. It also shows the same temperature resistance of 220°C in continuous use and peak temperature loads of 240°C. With this grade, BASF is closing a gap in the market: For in the future, also pipes in the charge-air duct between the turbocharger and intercooler can be manufactured efficiently (P 297/13e).
The first soft Ultramid Balance grades for extrusion
Another portfolio expansion covers BASF’s polyamid 610 product range. At the K 2013 it will introduce two flexible grades of Ultramid Balance that are suitable for extrusion of pipe and tubing intended for use specifically in the automotive and machinery sectors as well as for oil and gas lines. In this way, the company is reinforcing its position as a supplier of engineering plastics specialties for the extrusion field as well (P 298/13e).
Lifestyle with plastics and foams
Complete Ultramid SI polyamide family for the furniture industry
Plastics has in the meantime also become a material of choice for furniture: BASF presents four new versions from its polyamide portfolio that are geared to the needs of the furniture sector. All four new Ultramid® SI grades (SI: surface improved) combine high surface quality with the excellent mechanical and chemical properties of this class of materials in a special case even joined with flame retardants. One of the first serially produced items made of the new Ultramid SI series is the MOVYis3 office swivel chair, which BASF developed in collaboration with the furniture manufacturer Interstuhl (P 299/13e).
Latest project from designfabrik: Wästbergs lamp Winkel w127
Minimalist and clear is the form of the new Winkel w127 designer desk lamp from the Swedish manufacturer Wästberg that the young designer Dirk Winkel developed in cooperation with the designfabrik® at BASF. Its solid-plastic design concept, the micro gas springs in the joints and the LED light source express materiality and high quality at the same time; it is manufactured from BASF’s specialty polyamide Ultramid® S Balance. This makes production by means of cost-effective injection molding possible despite its elegant appearance. Not only designers but also simulation experts contributed to its creation (P 300/13e).
Infinergy: BASF develops the world’s first expanded TPU
BASF presents Infinergy™, the world's first expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU). This closed-cell particle foam shows an excellent resilience and an especially high durability over a wide temperature range. The first product making use of this innovative material is the new Energy Boost running shoe from adidas, which the German sportswear manufacturer has developed in close partnership with BASF. The midsole consisting of the new E-TPU with its combination of softness and high elasticity is responsible for the outstanding running characteristics of the Energy Boost running shoes. Their rebound is the highest of all available running shoes and remains stable even at low temperatures of minus 20°C (68 °F) (P 301/13e).
First production application of the compostable plastic ecovio in coffee capsules
The compostable plastic ecovio® from BASF has found its first production application in a system solution for packaging. The Swiss Coffee Company’s coffee capsules beanarella consist of the new injection molding grade ecovio IS1335; at the same time the multi-layer composite system for the aroma-tight outer barrier packaging for the capsules is also ecovio-based. The capsules fulfill the demanding requirements for protecting the product and brewing coffee in high-pressure coffee machines, yet may still be composted; so does the barrier packaging. The system solution is predominantly based on renewable resources. The product which was jointly developed in only some 13 months, can contribute to sustainability while simultaneously addressing the latest trend in coffee drinking (P 302/13e).
Plastics for data and water current
New Ultradur grade for sheathing of fiber-optic cables
BASF has developed a new grade of Ultradur® specifically for thin fiber-optic jacketing. With Ultradur B6550 LNX, the company is expanding its existing line of PBT plastics for extrusion of protective sheathing for optical fibers. With the new material, the loose tubes can have a thinner sheath at the same protection against crush and kinking than with standard PBT grades. Because of its fine crystalline morphology it exhibits even faster crystallization than all previous materials and has a very high melt viscosity, especially at low shear rates (P 303/13e).
Cost-effective metal substitution with new partly aromatic polyamides
Two newly introduced materials of BASF are suitable for replacing metals in areas of applications where plastics were hardly found until now: Ultramid® D3EG10 FC Aqua® und Ultramid D3EG12 HMG. Thanks to its good chemical and hydrolysis resistance, the Aqua grade is well-suited for components that come into contact with drinking water or food (FC stands for Food Contact) as in the case of housings for water meters. The extraordinary mechanical properties of Ultramid D3EG12 HMG have led to the suffix HMG („High Modulus Grade“). Moreover, the high surface quality opens up interesting application possibilities such as office chairs and ball shut-off valves (P 304/13e).
Hydrolysis-resistant PBT for automotive electrics
The hydrolysis-resistant PBT Ultradur® HR not only stands out in a positive way in customary static tests for damp-hot environments, but also passes the demanding climatic cycling tests of USCAR standard class 5. It could be shown that Ultradur HR is superior to competitor products. BASF now offers Ultradur HR with integrated flame retardance and laser transparency respectively. The material is thus suitable also for applications in electric vehicles. Examples are control housings or charging plugs, but also parts that have to be laser-welded from several components (P 305/13e).
Blanket made of foam blocks prevents sloshing
BASF and the South Korean company Samsung Heavy Industries have developed a new concept to prevent the sloshing of liquefied gas during its transport in tankers. The anti-sloshing solution is a kind of carpet consisting of cubes with a volume of one cubic meter, made of the BASF foam Basotect®. With the new anti-sloshing concept flexible load levels are possible, which reduces the number of no-load journeys. In 2012, the anti-sloshing concept received a “general approval” from two leading classification companies for shipping worldwide (P 306/13e).
The art of additivation and surface finishing
Additives for mechanical plastics recycling
BASF additives do more than just facilitate recycling, they also help some recyclates to achieve top performance characteristics, superior even to the virgin product. Recyclates without further treatment are therefore usually less stable. This problem can be solved by adding new stabilizers such as the functional additive Joncryl® ADR in PET recycling or by the Recyclostab®, Recycloblend® and Recyclossorb® product lines (P 307/13e).
Extensive screening program facilitates for pigments in sensitive applications
As of now, BASF is offering comprehensive analytical support for 160 pigments which facilitates the safe use of the products in sensible applications such as medical and food plastic packaging as well as toys, hygiene products but also water pipes. After having reviewed its pigment portfolio, BASF has optimized its product range by supporting 160 pigments that could be used in both sensitive and non-sensitive applications. By targeting a wide application scope, BASF allows for a very significant risk reduction of cross contamination along the converting industry and across the value chain (P 308/13e).
Investing globally in high-performance manufacturing sites
Highly sophisticated additives turn plastics into sustainable high-performance materials. The company also offers CSBs Customer Specific Blends, which are pre-packaged blends of additives tailored to meet the individual needs of local customers. Its most recent investments have been set up for CSBs in Bahrain. With a capacity of 16,000 tons, the new production plant is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The antioxidant production site in Singapore is also being adapted to meet the growing and specific needs of Asia and the Middle East. Overall, BASF is investing several hundred million euros in expanding its additive production and R&D sites over the next five years, thus pursuing its tradition of being the innovator and the pioneer in this market (P 309/13e).
Steron coating now standard and available worldwide
A few years ago, BASF created completely new ways to give surfaces an extremely unusual look and feel through use of a polyurethane dispersion with the brand name Steron®. Now, the company has automated the technology and is launching the first production applications in furniture industry. The coating system combines the characteristics of leather, artificial leather, fabric and soft-touch materials. Fields of possible application vary from automotive applications and clothing articles as bags, accessories and shoes to furniture and high-quality packaging. The material is air-permeable, scratch-resistant and dirt-repellent. A first production site is being built (P 310/13e).
Polyurethanes in all forms: compact, foamed and coated
Abundant applications in building and construction for polyurea coating system
The BASF material Elastocoat® is constantly conquering new fields of application. The polyurea-based coating system is sprayed on surfaces that have to be protected. This process yields a protective coating that reacts to form a continuous membrane devoid of seams and joints. In the construction sector, the BASF material is used for coating concrete surfaces as car park floors, petrol tank pits and waste water shafts. Imposing examples of application are roofs and domes of the biggest mosque in Central Asia in Astana, the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan (P 311/13e).
New antistatic additive for the plastics industry
In industry, the electrostatic charging of plastics can cause severe damages. To address this problem, BASF has developed an antistatic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) granulate introduced into the market as of now under the Elastostat® brand name. The exceptional properties of Elastostat are its permanent antistatic effect, mechanical properties and compatibility with non-polar polymers. The new TPU masterbatch opens up large fields of application, particularly for industrial packaging such as big bags and plastic drums or cans. Other application sectors are the automotive industry and packaging and transport systems for electronics (P 312/13e).
The first PU high-performance insulating material as a ready-to-use panel
Researchers of BASF have developed a unique high-performance insulation material that is scheduled for launch in just a few years. The product is a novel type of aerogel that will be offered as a mechanically strong panel. With a lambda value of below 16 milliwatts per meter and Kelvin (mW/m·K), the material displays exceptional insulation performance, is extra-slim, light and will be produced as a ready-to-use polyurethane panel that is easy to process. BASF sees future applications of the product above all in construction and refrigeration (P 313/13e).
The P numbers at the end of each paragraph are referring to the complete press releases for the corresponding topics. They will be all available for download together with a lot of more press photos as of July 9th in the Internet at basf.de/.