BASF now offers an additional service for polyurethane systems in automotive interiors. The company’s Ultrasim simulation tool has been expanded so that the behaviour of polyurethane (PU) systems during foaming can now be reliably predicted for both open and closed moulds.

The automotive supplier Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is using the virtual process design for the instrument panels it manufactures for current models such as the BMW X1.

Process design begins at purely virtual phase

Instrument panels are safety-relevant, large and complex components that vehicle makers approve individually for every car model. During manufacturing, the foaming process is crucial to ensure that carrier, skin, PU foam and the respective airbag design combine to produce a harmonious component.

With Ultrasim the PU foam can be manufactured efficiently according to process and part. The crucial aspect is that the process design already begins at an early, purely virtual phase of the project. For customers, this is a significant help toward cutting project times, optimising mould design and planning development work in a cost-effective and holistic way.

Simulation adds value especially in early project phases

Within the simulation tool, the manufacturing process for the component is an integral part of the calculation of the component behaviour.

Ultrasim contains tailor-made material models for PU systems, so that the injection, foaming and hardening of the polyurethane can be precisely predicted.

The analysis thus takes exactly into account the typical properties of the relevant materials: the temperature-dependent reaction process and foam formation as well as the resulting density profile and flowability during foaming. This makes it possible to generate a location-independent calculation of the foaming process: from injection via the complete mould filling to the final part density.

Foaming process in both open and closed moulds becomes transparent

Setting the right process parameters is just as important as having an exact description of the material behaviour.

Foam-fill simulation allows the injection position, the route of the mixing head and the orientation of the mould to be analysed, but also flow aids, venting designs and closing times.

Applications: from engine hoods to steering wheels

The new simulation service is currently being used in customer projects for other components such as engine hoods and steering wheels, i.e. for integral and flexible foams.