Joint development for injection molded plastic parts with steel cord reinforcement


Press release

Joint press release from BASF, voestalpine Plastics Solutions and Bekaert

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Bekaert, BASF and voestalpine Plastics Solutions have been working together on the development of thermoplastic components that are reinforced with steel cord fabrics and produced by means of injection molding. The three companies have joined together with the objective of employing and further developing this new EASI technology with partners in the automotive industry.

The abbreviation EASI stands for Energy Absorption, Safety and Integrity. In contrast to known types of reinforcements like continuous fiber-reinforced laminates or other carbon or glass fiber fabrics, the steel cord inserts ensure especially the integrity of the molded part’s function in a crash situation. This creates an entirely new performance class.

Steeling the show Bekaert, voestalpine Plastics Solutions and BASF have been investigating steel cord reinforced injection molded parts since 2010. The first production part using the predecessor technology was based on compression molding with GMT (glass mat reinforced thermoplastics), and received the AVK Innovation Award in 2008. Working together, the three companies are now focusing on classical injection molding of parts with steel cord reinforcement.

better together
in new concept development

Bekaert contributes its expertise in the manufacture of steel cord fabrics to the cooperation, while voestalpine Plastics Solutions is responsible for the processing technology and part production in injection molding. BASF, for its part, is continuing to develop its crash-optimized short or long fiberreinforced polyamide specialties in the Ultramid® product line for use in combination with the steel cord inserts. At the same time, the company is expanding its expertise in the prediction of part performance by enhancing the capabilities of its Ultrasim® simulation tool through incorporation of representation methods and material models for the new composite materials. By using polyamide as matrix material it is not only possible to access attached or semi-structural parts but also gain entry to components of the body-in-white (BIW), which need to run through the e-coating process.

Injection molding and steel cord reinforcement

The steel cord reinforcement employed in the EASI concept ensures that an injection molded part retains its structural integrity. Thus, while EASI parts may be damaged in a crash, they are still able to absorb energy and lead it further into the structure. This is a decisive innovation when compared to molded plastic parts with conventional reinforcement that usually fracture upon failure. The material is thus predestined for regions that are intended for absorption and harmonic distribution of crash energy. (see video: The resultant level of performance cannot be attained with other types of reinforcing technology. Vehicle components where these characteristics can be exploited include structure-relevant attachments such as bumper beam carriers or front ends as well as BIW components.

Injection molding of thermoplastics such as Ultramid permits even complex shapes to be produced easily and is an established, highly automated plastic processing method for high-volume production. The three companies believe that combining polyamide injection molding and steel cord reinforcement provides optimal access specifically to parts that must retain their supporting function and structural integrity in order to further distribute forces in a crash.

About Bekaert

Bekaert is a global technological and market leader in advanced solutions based on metal transformation and coatings, and the world’s largest independent manufacturer of drawn steel wire products. Bekaert (Euronext Brussels: BEKB) is a global company with headquarters in Belgium, employing 28 000 people worldwide.
Serving customers in 120 countries, Bekaert pursues sustainable profitable growth in all its activities and generated € 4.6 billion combined sales in 2011.

About BASF

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success, social responsibility and environmental protection. Through science and innovation we enable our customers in almost all industries to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and system solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring healthy food and nutrition and helping to improve the quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF posted sales of about €73.5 billion in 2011 and had more than 111,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN).

About voestalpine Plastics Solutions

voestalpine Plastics Solutions part of Voestalpine Group produce parts for primarily the automotive industry and specializes in the development of creative plastic composite solutions. voestalpine Plastics Solutions have extensive expertise in the field of development and production of Hybrid-parts. Amongst them, we can produce inventive solutions unifying the strengths of plastic and metal. voestalpine Plastics Solutions has both compression moulding, thermoforming as well as injection moulding capability to produce plastic parts and complete modules. The high level of automation in state of the art production facilities guarantees optimal cost-efficiency at equal or increased quality. Be it the development, construction, optimization or scale-up of an idea or product, our engineering-team is determined to find the best solution. Our broad range of skills and capabilities enable us to support and advise our customer in any area required. Production at highest quality combined with cost-efficiency is our key drivers for success. With over 500 employees and a turnover of approximately 105 Mio Euro voestalpine Plastics Solutions play a very significant role in the world of fibre-reinforced plastics. The voestalpine group head-office is located in Linz (Austria). The group is represented by 360 Production and sales companies in more than 60 countries. In the business year 2010/11 about 46.000 employees contributed to a total turnover of approximately 10,95 billion Euro.