Plastics for safe and comfortable automotive electrics and electronics
Engineering Plastics and Polyurethanes from BASF enable innovative solutions for automotive electrics and electronics. Both material groups are indispensable when it comes to safety, comfort and energy efficiency in modern vehicle concepts. Innovation in automotive design is significantly driven by electrical, electronic and mechatronic systems. Recent driver assistance systems, networked and electric mobility will accelerate this development even further.
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Versatile E&E applications for the automotive
From fuse boxes to modern power electronics - there is hardly an electrical application that does not rely on plastics. Where electricity flows, our Engineering Plastics and Polyurethanes show outstanding electrical as well as good mechanical properties and a high dimensional stability under heat.
Like sensitive electronic components, sensors have to withstand high temperatures in all climate zones worldwide. Besides eMobility, automated driving is gaining importance and sensors are key components for the performance. As sensors are asked to play a greater role, the challenges for these sensors in ADAS will continue to increase. Tailor-made Engineering Plastics, like Ultradur® RX, are resistant to media like spray water, oils or road salt while they are able to block or transmit radar waves from other vehicles.
The electronic control unit housings have to protect the sensitive automotive electronics and have to be functional in all climate zones on earth. This includes hot damp conditions, spray water and road salt which increases the requirements on the plastic. Therefore, the level and duration of the stress are key factors as to whether or not an application is feasible. Ultradur® HR is the ideal choice for performance in challenging environments.
Motors and actuators
With the increasing use of actuators, such as in seat control, automatic light controlling or door locks, the comfort for the driver is also growing. Due to miniaturization and functionalization of components, actuators are becoming smaller and more complex, which demands a high mechanical performance of materials such as Ultraform®, Ultradur® or Ultramid® Advanced from BASF. They convince with high dimensional stability, wear resistance and are optimized for complex components in actuators.
Speed sensor cables for ABS and ESP systems use outer-sheathings of Elastollan® to provide a secure flow of information – even in the area of the wheel house, close to the axle, which is at risk of impact from stones and exposure to water, vibration and low temperatures. BASF thermoplastic polyurethane is also used for charging cables as flame retardant material.
A cable harness is typically limp and has to be transformed into a specific, three-dimensional, pre-formed geometry using aids – for example cable conduits or tape. With Elastofoam®, the foaming of the application gives more flexibility, provides mechanical protection and the integration of mounting elements is possible.
High-voltage connectors can be most often identified by their typical orange color. The light-colorable Ultradur® is color stable and resistant to thermal aging. The color coding of the individual components is safety-relevant: It needs to remain highly visible for at least ten years. While being part of the non-halogenated flame-retardant portfolio, the BASF polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) as well offers high hydrolytic resistance and excellent electrical insulation (CTI 600).
Your eMobility ambitions begin with BASF, the world’s #1 chemical supplier for the automotive industry. Backed by our decades of engineering expertise and built with superior eMobility Performance Materials, your applications will meet the highest standards for safety, durability, and mechanical performance. Enjoy the freedom to design trend-setting eMobility innovations as we partner with you to drive a truly sustainable future. When you rely on BASF’s broad portfolio of Performance Materials for your eMobility applications, you’ll gain the advantage of a unique co-creation partnership.
Detailed material information for E&E solutions
» Engineering Plastics
In automotive electrics, extremely high requirements such as resistance to media and weathering as well as heat ageing resistance have to be fulfilled. From the simple fuse box to modern power electronics - there is hardly an electrical application that does not rely on plastics. In fact, through Engineering Plastics these applications have often become safe and economical. Where electricity flows, our materials show outstanding electrical as well as good mechanical properties and a high dimensional stability under heat. They guarantee electrical insulation and a high heat deflection. Engineering plastics can reduce fire risk in the event of an electrical defect or exposure to external sources of ignition.
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.
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The Ultramid® product line offers several grades of molding compounds, available as unreinforced, reinforced 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.
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For critical applications in automotive electronics, long life and reliability are basic requirements. It is often possible that the average operating temperature in modern electronic components increases, e.g. due to compacting. The main feature of the Ultradur® HR (=hydrolysis resistant) product range is the extremely high resistance of the PBT polymer to damage due to water at elevated temperatures. Ultradur® HR is based on standard PBT, but incorporates highly effective additives which greatly retard the hydrolytic degradation and can therefore considerably extend the life of a part.
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Ultradur® RX is a newly developed modified polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) specifically for radar sensor applications in vehicles. Thanks to its good resistance against media such as splash water, oils or salt, Ultradur® offers an exceptional protection for sensor housings. In addition, the material shields the sensitive electronics in the housings against disturbing electromagnetic waves from other vehicles. The different grades of the Ultradur® RX series are products designed for absorption and reduction of interference radiation in the range of 76 to 81 GHz.
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Ultradur® LUX is a PBT that offers various possibilities for joining plastics using laser transmission welding. The thermoplastic shows a previously unachieved laser transparency in the range of 900 to 1100 nm  at a consistently high level. With this PBT the laser beam is considerably less scattered and much less widened. At the welding laser wavelengths, Ultradur® LUX let much more light passes than standard PBT.
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Ultramid® Advanced comprises BASF’s polyphthalamide (PPA) portfolio which based on the four polymers Ultramid® Advanced N (PA9T), Ultramid® Advanced T1000 (PA6T/6I), Ultramid® Advanced T2000 (PA6T/66) and the long-standing Ultramid® T KR (PA6T/6). They enable the next generation of lightweight, high-performance plastic parts in the automotive industry in challenging conditions. The PPA compounds can withstand humidity and contact with challenging media while maintaining their strength. The low water uptake results in a dimensional stability of the plastic parts in humid environments.
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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.
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Our versatile PU systems for E&E applications
With their versatile properties and unlimited application possibilities, our PU systems can make the automotive electronics safer and more reliable. BASF polyurethanes like the soft integral foam Elastofoam® and the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) Elastollan® enable modern and reliable E&E applications.
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 reproduces the texture of the mold surface perfectly. Mostly in combination with an appropriate coating these flexible integral systems provide a soft, pleasant touch combined with a UV-, scratch- and abrasion resistant surface of smooth haptic.
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Where conventional materials reach their limits, Elastollan® in vehicles 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. It gives freedom for a lot of design possibilities. 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. For example, 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.
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The Elastolit® product range includes Elastolit® R (RIM/RRIM), Elastolit® D (rigid integral foam) and Elastolit® K (compact duromer). With a variety of properties, these polyurethane systems constitute high-quality, economic alternatives to classic materials like wood or metal or thermosetting materials and engineering thermoplastics.
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