Ludwigshafen, Germany – BASF has extended its Ultrasim simulation tool. It can now predict how its Elastofoam I flexible integral foam systems for car steering wheels will behave in use.
The detailed simulation is able to calculate the most important chemical reactions and the flow behaviour of the polyurethane foam in the mould.
BASF said that it accounts for process and environmental conditions at every point. These include temperature, pressure and material concentration, as well as construction elements such as the metal armature and cables.
The simulation is based on extensive material data and complex material laws. These affect mould filling behaviour and the foam density distribution within the finished steering wheel.
Steering wheels present a number of challenges compared with other automotive components such as instrument panels.
The company describes the system as a ‘virtual magnifying glass’. For example, critical air voids can be identified by the tool and air vents can be adapted.
Simulations help to design a stable manufacturing process long before the mould is built. BASF claims this development will allow steering wheel manufacturers to reduce development cycles.
Another advantage is that it assists in the design process, including the integration of electronics within the steering wheel.