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Simulating Steering Wheel Molding

BASF offers a flexible integral foam system, Elastofoam I, for steering wheels. 


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When it comes to automotive interiors, soft-touch is the absolute order of the day regardless of the price point of the vehicle in question. One of the places where there not only must be a bit of tactile give but absolute consistency is the steering wheel: imagine gripping a wheel at some point on its periphery and discovering a void. While the word catastrophic might be an exaggeration, only slightly. You can almost hear the J.D. Power numbers plummeting.

BASF Corporation offers a flexible integral foam system, Elastofoam I, for steering wheels. It is a polyurethane.

Notably, not just being satisfied with supplying the material, BASF has developed the capability in its Ultrasim simulation process to model the process of molding the steering wheel so that the mold can be developed for a stable process, such as having air vents located in the right places so that there is material consistency throughout the wheel.

Ultrasim is also capable of determining the stiffness and hardness of the molded wheel, something that heretofore was only possible after a physical part was produced.
The simulation process utilizes material models, as well as part design (the steering wheel has a number of components beyond the inner metal ring) and process parameters.