How Does Automotive Plastic Performance Measure Up?

Are you interested in exploring new vehicle material options, such as thermoplastic composites, but feel leery about the part's potential performance?

It's a common misconception that you cannot predict a fiber reinforced plastic's performance as well as you can with steel and aluminum.

BASF is breaking down that barrier with its ULTRASIM® technology that routinely delivers 90 to 95 percent accuracy when predicting the performance of parts molded using its materials.

Pictured above is BASF's performance prediction technology, ULTRASIM®, in action. Pictured above is BASF's performance prediction technology, ULTRASIM®, in action.

To help meet upcoming fuel efficiency standards, automakers can utilize ULTRASIM to design and develop lightweight performance parts. Not convinced? Here are a few case studies that show the performance possibilities.

Faurecia Seatback Frame

BASF helped Faurecia, an international automotive parts manufacturer, convert the steel structure of its seatback frame to plastic while ensuring optimal design, safety and comfort for the occupants. Beyond achieving a faster development and manufacturing process, ULTRASIM allowed Faurecia to design a seat that offered various benefits including:

  • A total mass savings of 30 to 40 percent over the steel frame seat system, equating to 6 pounds weight savings per vehicle, 16 liter volume reduction and 1 inch reduction of seatback mass;
  • High strength and stiffness characteristics equal to the durability of steel; and,
  • Higher energy absorption.

Sollega Solar Panel Mount

BASF worked in partnership with Sollega, a leading solar photovoltaic racking manufacturer, to develop commercial solar panel mounts made of high performance, lightweight material. This design was one of the first of its kind made entirely from injection molded plastic, in a market that exclusively uses metal. Using ULTRASIM to design the mount, Sollega saw:

  • Total material reduction of 3.7 pounds compared to older designs made from high-density polyethylene that weighed 8.2 pounds. Now the 4.5 pound solar panel mount features 33 percent glass-filled polyamide 6.
  • A decrease in manufacturing costs.
  • A solar mount that can withstand greater, specifically heavy snow that accumulates during the winter.
  • Mounts that can be stacked on top of each other during shipping and installation without deforming or damaging the product.

The ULTRASIM technology also successfully predicted the performance for lightweight plastic parts in the BMW i3 and the Opel Astra OPC.

If you are ready to get started on your own thermoplastic part production with the assistance of ULTRASIM or just want more information, visit