Virtual Vehicle Innovation

Some have referred to COVID-19 as ‘The Great Pause of 2020’, yet that’s far from the case in the automotive industry as designers and engineers become even more resourceful in making sure vehicle programs stay on track. The pace at which automakers are integrating digital technologies throughout the entire supply chain to drive efficiencies and innovate has accelerated significantly. BASF is leveraging its virtual portfolio and digitally enabled processes to help customers streamline the design and development phase.

Visualizing automotive paint colors virtually

BASF’s Coatings division offers AUROOM®, a digital platform where OEM designers can access a database of photo-realistic vehicle colors. BASF produces hundreds of colors and scanned the whole portfolio by cameras to create this authentic color database. Designers can virtually paint any color on their vehicles’ exteriors to gain realistic impressions of how it could look. AUROOM also highlights different facets of coatings, such as sparkling or lightness flop, on a 3D shape that simulates specific vehicle models.

To also help with color visualization, designers can use BASF’s virtual Automotive Vehicles of Trends shapes (AUVOTs). There are four AUVOTs that represent distinct automotive features, from compact cars to SUVs. AUVOTs give a realistic impression of geometry, light, surfaces or effects, along with an accurate appearance of paint, on a complete vehicle. One side of the shape illustrates standard automotive elements, while the other side shows the unique properties of colors.

Both AUROOM and AUVOTs are part of BASF’s virtual paint portfolio. These virtual tools help OEMs make the automotive color decision process quicker and more efficient, as they no longer have to wait for physical samples to be painted and shipped.

Predicting the performance of plastics

ULTRASIM® is BASF’s exclusive computer-simulated software that provides a virtual environment to test plastic component behavior to help realize weight and cost savings while ensuring optimum performance. BASF also expanded the application range of ULTRASIM to now include calculating component concepts based on thermoplastic elastomers like Elastollan. This computer-aided engineering (CAE) technology predicts with 90-95 percent accuracy how well a material will perform under various conditions. ULTRASIM improves each phase of development and contributes to the overall performance of the end product. In addition to ensuring that a plastic component will perform as expected, ULTRASIM helps customers reduce development costs, eliminate waste and go to market quicker.

For example, additive manufacturing has been proven to accelerate the vehicle development process. With additive manufacturing, automotive parts can be designed and produced in a matter of days. However, just as with traditionally constructed parts, the design validation process is a pinch point. BASF’s ULTRASIM characterizes and optimizes the behavior of specific materials in the additive manufacturing process, simulates new ways to reshape a part and creates designs that are additive manufacturing-ready. ULTRASIM saves countless print-test-repeat cycles which are usual to the additive design process, enabling short time to market.

BASF’s line of additive manufacturing materials drive adoption for both functional prototypes and small series production:

TPU – 3D printed elastomer with high durability and tunable softness for comfort applications

  • Current uses include seating, handles, tubes and ducts

PP – 3D printed polypropylene with excellent mechanicals and cost efficiency

  • Current uses include reservoirs for test mules and structural interior parts

PA6 MF – high grade PA6 with mineral fill for strength and high heat deflection

  • Current uses include underhood components, structural parts and housings

We did not anticipate that a global pandemic would amplify this need for virtual collaboration, but with our digital tools and solutions, we stand ready to help the global automotive industry continue innovating for the future of mobility.

To learn how BASF can support your chemistry-driven automotive needs, contact BASFAutomotiveSolutions@basf.com.