Starting in October 2013, BASF will offer its customers a product and service package under the name Ultracom that encompasses thermoplastic laminates and tapes combined with compounds for overmolding as well as a comprehensive engineering support component. The basic idea is to provide an integrated development platform that starts at the concept phase, continues through design, simulation, processing and part testing, and ends in efficient volume production at the customer according to Dr. Reinhard Jakobi, Head of Processing Technology, Engineering Plastics Europe, at BASF SE (Ludwigshafen).
The support component of the Ultracom package encompasses design assistance in the form of the Ultrasim simulation tool, use of a newly installed manufacturing cell for composite part production as well as extensive and expanded capabilities for part testing at BASF. Since March 2013, this equipment has been used to produce multifunctional composite test specimens by means of the in-mold forming/overmolding process.
According to BASF, this process represents the most promising approach for production of structural components from laminates and injection molding compounds: forming of the laminate (draping or in-mold forming) takes place in the mold, and is followed by overmolding. Further if the laminate is pre-heated outside the mold, the cycle time is considerably shorter as the result of parallel process steps. This, however, requires reliable handling and positioning of the heated laminate insert, which is no longer rigid.