Development of diverse PU technologies outlined at FSK’s meeting
By Liz White, editor
At the 50th anniversary event of the FSK (Germany’s association for foamed plastics and polyurethane), some common polyurethane themes emerged. These include the material’s versatility, its ability to solve problems, the increasing need to handle environmental issues, and the complex technology exploited in its use.
The latter was adroitly illustrated in a dual presentation from German car maker BMW AG and tooling specialist Frimo Lotte GmbH, illustrating how far production of instrument panels has come since the early 1970s, when backfoaming using polyurethane was introduced.
Foaming’s role in BMW’s success
In early attempts to make backfoamed instrument panels (IPs) for the BMW 3-series, production was challenging: “We had a high rate of defective parts,” said Dr Thorsten Pflamm-Jonas, leader of cockpit development with BMW AG.
But now BMW sees itself as a pioneer who realised the potential of this process.
Cycle times are now 2-4 min instead of the 20 min they were in the 1970s, and tool delivery times have been cut to 18 weeks from 45 initially, said Jürgen Lause of tooling specialist Frimo Lotte GmbH.
IPs – which consist of a carrier and decorative layer, with a soft interlayer between the two – are now far more complex…