Innovative plastics for design and comfort in the automotive interior

Parallel to the implementation of automated driving and accompanied by the emergence of alternative eMobility powertrain setups, the car interior will transform into an extended living room. With BASF’s Polyurethanes like Elastoflex®, Elastofoam®, Elastollan®, Elastocoat® and Elastoskin® as well as the Engineering Plastics Ultramid®, Ultradur® and Ultraform® modern and innovative automotive interior designs can be realized. Besides high-class surfaces, smart haptics, improved acoustics and long service life, the materials convince with efficient production, global availability accompanied by a reliable service.  Cellasto® improves the noise, vibration and harshness performance of the vehicle and brings the automotive comfort to the next level.

Automotive interior in action 

Here you can find customer stories, case studies and all the latest updates from our interior blog! 

» Applications

Versatile applications for the automotive interior

Whatever your specific needs for your interior application: BASF connects new material developments with unique services in order to create system solutions which give your interior application the distinctive advantage.

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Instrument and door panel

Instrument panels are safety-relevant parts with extreme requirements. The foam has to fulfill high durability even in humid and hot environments. Elastoflex® E is well-suited for this purpose. The current portfolio for closed- and open-mold technologies offers low density solutions down to 100 g/l and fast demolding times down to 70s. Foaming in gaps smaller than 5 mm can be realized. Emissions are extremely low fulfilling VDA278 and chamber test requirements. Special soft grades are available fulfilling harsh heat and humid aging tests requested by OEMs.

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Steering wheel

Steering wheels made of the flexible integral foam Elastofoam® I have a soft, comfortable touch combined with a tough outer skin. They are wear-resistant and durable, unaffected by sweat, sun cream or cleaning agents. State-of-the-art low emission systems offer a significant weight reduction down to 340g/l without loss of properties at demolding times down to 60 seconds.

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Car headliners are the biggest surface to absorb sound and reduce vibrations, though available space is limited. BASF thermoformable foam systems Elastoflex® E 3943 perfectly fit to this application. The low density foam systems down to 22 g/L offer outstanding acoustic properties while providing high stiffness and very low emissions. The ISO 116 product line complements the portfolio by lamination adhesives for high productivity and low scrap rate.

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Trunk floor

Elastoflex® E 3532 is the ideal resin to realize extremely lightweight honeycomb-sandwich structures due to easy and fast processing. No matter which part size, usage of our thermo-activated systems ensures thorough wetting of the fibers, a firm bond with the sandwich core and rapid curing. Due to its excellent mold-release properties, tailored rheological profile and low temperature curing mechanism, a resource-saving efficiency in the whole production process is given.

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BASF provides fully formulated Elastoflex® W systems or special isocyanate solutions for comfortable seats with high productivity even at low densities down to 40g/l. Foam hardness is directly adjustable on the application machines in a wide range. Different hardness zones in a seat allow a combination of strong seating support with a soft feel for increased comfort. Elastoflex® W foam systems are extremely durable under dynamic loads for long service life.

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Acoustic foam

Acoustic comfort is a key contribution to the passenger’s wellbeing in a car. Elastoflex® W flexible foams allow car designers to tailor the acoustic perception of the car interior. Tailored acoustic properties, low densities, good processing behavior and low emissions are key requisites for state-of-the-art carpet back-foaming and related applications.

Detailed material information for car interior solutions

» Polyurethanes

Our versatile PU systems for the automotive interior

With their versatile properties and unlimited application possibilities, our PU systems can make the automotive interior safer, more comfortable and more beautiful. BASF polyurethanes can be adjusted to many different densities, they can be soft or hard, flexible or stiff, they resist hot and cold temperatures as well as many aggressive media.

The flexible foam system Elastoflex® W decisively contributes to car comfort. Besides its well-known value for seating applications, guaranteeing comfortable feeling in the car’s seat even during long and dynamic driving, it also contributes to the sound impression in the driver’s cabin. In comparison to other acoustic solutions, Elastoflex® W performs not only as sound absorber, but also dampens sound from outside the car by visco-elastic energy dissipation. Current systems follow the latest demands on air quality in the car interior controlled by external institutes according to e.g. VDA278 or chamber tests. Especially designed foams resist also high temperatures and media contact. These foams are widely used in direct contact to the engine as NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) and heat management solution.

Learn more about Elastoflex® W

Although having an open-cell foam core structure, Elastofoam® I has been developed to form an integral skin as decorative and protecting surface in a one-shot process. Using water as a chemical blowing agent or physical blowing agents, Elastofoam® I perfectly reproduces the texture of the mold surface perfectly. Mostly in combination with an appropriate coating Elastofoam® I flexible integral systems provide a soft, pleasant touch combined with a UV-, scratch- and abrasion resistant surface of smooth haptic.

Learn more about Elastofoam® I

PU systems are in many cases injected into a cavity as a reactive liquid mixture and cure directly in desired shape. However, PU systems can also be foamed and cured in blocks batch-wise or continuously. Elastoflex® E 3943 is foamed as free-rise blocks and offers a very open-cell foam with very low density of 12-35g/l. Since these foam types are thermoformable, they can be shaped in a common hot press and bonded to diverse surface materials in a continuous process using the specially designed adhesive series ISO 116. Components benefit from the very light material with excellent sound absorption also at low part thicknesses suitable for formed 3D parts with deep contours at high stiffness.

Learn more about Elastoflex® E

Although invisible, Elastoflex® E semi-rigid foams contribute extensively to the valuable appearance in car interiors, since the foam can be found behind most skin surfaces and causes a pleasant, soft and elastic touch. It needs to fill even smallest gaps between carrier and skin, e.g. in instrument and door panels as well as in armrests. Elastoflex® E has excellent mold-filling and very robust processing properties. The semi rigid foam systems offer fast demolding times and can be combined with all skin types, individually designed for all special OEM requirements. Although applications are diverse, it is BASF’s goal to provide one system for many parts in order to reduce customers’ complexity and cost structure.

Learn more about Elastoflex® E

PU is known as the material of choice for high-quality looks as well as fine tactile, haptic skin surfaces. Combined with in-mold coating (IMC) Elastoskin® I provides surface parts with very fine grain textures resistant to UV light, scratch or impact as well as to cleaning agents, sun cream or sweat - even for multi-colored parts. Unlike other materials, Elastoskin® I contains no plasticizers known to cause problems with migration, interaction with back-foaming, discolorations or emissions. Additionally, the low mold temperature of 75 °C and the absence of any chlorine, known to be problematic in waste treatment, contribute to a sustainable energy consumption in production and waste combustion. Elastoskin® I offers excellent mechanical properties either at very low or high temperatures.

Learn more about Elastoskin®

Where conventional materials reach their limits, Elastollan® can make all the difference. It is noted for its excellent haptics and mechanics, as well as its superior long-term durability and resistance to weathering. Design possibilities are unlimited. Its strength lies in its versatility: the properties of Elastollan® can be readjusted and recombined time and again – depending on the application and the specific requirements of the component. It shows high temperature as well as good media resistance and has superior dynamic properties. Its damping behavior is excellent as is its resistance against abrasion, scratch and wear.

Learn more about Elastollan®

Surface parts from wood are becoming more and more popular in car interiors. They have to be protected against sun and degradation. Elastocoat® C cold-cast systems and coatings offer a transparent, lightfast, scratch-resistant and also self-healing surface of particular flair.

Learn more about Elastocoat®

The low-density Elastoflex® E and Elastolit® D semi-structural foams are designed for producing very light and stiff composite as well as sandwich structures for various interior and exterior applications such as load floors, interior lining parts, roof modules and engine hoods. Reinforced with long-glass fibers in state-of-the-art composite processes, thin-walled parts with good mechanical properties yet light in weight can be realized. Such composite substrates can be combined with various surface materials like textiles or thermoplastic films, either by back-foaming or glueing.

Learn more about Elastoflex® E and Elastolit®

» Engineering Plastics

Engineering Plastics

Emission-optimized instrument panels, acoustically effective roof linings or solid, high-quality surfaces – Engineering Plastics by BASF offer versatile application possibilities for less weight, optimum comfort and low emissions. BASF materials for the automotive interior ensure the following features:

  • Great design freedom
  • Detailed representation
  • Excellent haptics and look
  • Optimum combination of strength and stiffness for structural parts

The Ultramid® product line offers several grades of molding compounds, available as unreinforced grades and filled with glass fibers or minerals, or reinforced with long-glass fibers for special applications. Ultramid® is noted for its high mechanical strength, stiffness and thermal stability. The grades are based on PA6, PA66, PA66/6 or various other co-polyamides and are recommended for applications that need superior durability.

Learn more about Ultramid®

The semi-crystalline polyamide allows light to pass through largely unhindered. Compared to opaque standard polyamides, Ultramid® Vision shows very high light transmission with low light scattering. This polyamide combines the best properties of two material groups: the chemical resistance, temperature resistance and easy processing of semi-crystalline, opaque resins with the transparency of amorphous polymers.

Learn more about Ultramid® Vision

The Ultradur® product line of partially crystalline, thermoplastic and saturated polyesters is derived from polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). Ultradur provides strength in applications where high-quality and heavy-duty parts are required - a feature that is particularly important is the low water absorption and thus the fact that the mechanical and electrical properties are largely independent of the moisture content or the climatic surrounding conditions. Particularly for components that are safety-relevant and have to work reliably for the entire lifetime of a component, Ultradur® is indispensable.

Learn more about Ultradur®

The polyamide is BASF’s specialty for high-glossy components in automotive interiors. It shows a balanced property profile for components which are high gloss and yet at the same time resistant without any coating. It reproduces structures true to detail. Thus, the material enables an interplay of light and shadow high in contrast. This provides designers with new opportunities to combine unusual textures with new levels of emotion. Surfaces can also be structured by haptic design elements. With suitable sensor technology, this allows integrated, functionalized designs.

Learn more about Ultramid® Deep Gloss 

The Ultrason® resins are amorphous thermoplastics derived from polyethersulfone (PESU), polysulfone (PSU) and polyphenylsulfone (PPSU). They offer very high thermal and excellent chemical resistance. Applications always keep stiffness and dimensional stability even when used at very high temperatures or under challenging conditions. Its wide spectrum of properties allows Ultrason® to be molded into high-quality parts with a long service life.

Learn more about Ultrason®

Ultraform® is our co-polymeric polyoxymethylene (POM) offering excellent sliding friction properties that engineers ask for. Ultraform® can be thermoplastically processed and has a partially crystalline structure with a high degree of crystallization. Special co-monomer units account for the high stability of Ultraform® during processing and when exposed to long-term heat and to chemicals. It surpasses by far the resistance of homo-polymeric polyoxymethylene.

Learn more about Ultraform®

» Specialty Elastomers

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