The middle class car..._IMG1The middle class car..._IMG2

The middle class car...


Improving the new VW Golf VI by covering the centre console in a thermoplastic polyurethane, BASF helped take the Golf VI from an average, middle class car, to a car which is styled well above average.


VW's technical designers have created a stunning new PU centre console out of Elastollan for the Golf VI

First impressions count, especially when you're buying a new car. Look inside a car and the interior has to be right first time; the design, materials and the feel have to win over potential customers immediately.


The new Golf VI is no longer an average middle class car and VW want the interior styling to reflect a car well above its class. It doesn't disappoint with a new interior that oozes style, quality and sophistication, thanks to a fine layer of polyurethane.


The surface of the Golf's centre console is made out of Elastollan®, a thermoplastic polyurethane. ELASTOGRAN's client, Key Plastics Europe in Lennestadt, brought the construction unit to the production stage in a sensationally short development time. "The goal was," says Ralf Hesener, Development Manager at Key Plastics, "to continue the look of the instrument panel into the interior," for which the correct materials were required. So Key Plastics quickly got together with the material manufacturers to carry out innumerable experiments to test the material's characteristics.


The project's technician explained: "The most important thing is to offer the passenger a pleasant look and feel. With polyurethane, a very high-quality and concise surface texture can be achieved and the material's other properties also convinced us."


With an Elastollan finish, even the simplest units have a convincing look and feel


The centre console has become something of a masterpiece in vehicle interior components. Producing it has been a tough race against time to meet the start of production. But the result is plain to see: a completely new material combination of PC-ABS for the underlying components and the thermoplastic polyurethane Elastollan from ELASTOGRAN as surface material.


The cover is the main construction unit of the two-piece centre console. The design and feel follow through to the instrument panel and footwell cover on the driver and front seat passenger side — an extremely complex shaped part which has to be very durable. The upper side is highly functional with a storage compartment, ashtray, climatic control panel, cup-holder and the chromium plated gearshift cover. Another attractive feature is the soft surfacing, which is very easy on the legs and knees.


Component spray casting technology for a first-class feel


The cover is manufactured by means of a two-component plastic spray casting technique. This was completely new territory for the developers, because for the first time under this procedure, an extensive and complex construction unit of this type was manufactured, which has a surfacing comparable to slush-skin.


Hans Kampsen, ELASTOGRAN's head of sales and technical servicing of thermoplastic polyurethane within the automobile range, puts it in a nutshell: "With our aliphatic TPU, we offer a clear advantage to the customer with the total cost of the construction unit. The expensive subsequent processing step of varnishing can be saved due to the high fastness to light. By using Elastollan, we've created a high-quality surface without a lacquer finish." Moreover, by spraying the circumferential soft components along the contact areas to the neighbouring parts, we've also created an anti-squeaking effect.


A material without corners and edges must be an award winner


The highly versatile material, TPU, has a whole host of benefits. "Particularly important for the application," Kampsen describes, "is the 100 percent cream resistiveness of our material. There can be no flaking of the surface even after long-term use." Moreover, the Elastollan surface is a concise grain pattern. This also convinced the Technical Manager, Mr. Hesener, of the performance profile of the thermoplastic polyurethane: "We have achieved a continuous grained surface with the centre console, without edges or recesses. The fact that we were able to implement the development so precisely is a great success for all involved."


All the individual components flow into each other creating interior design perfection. The centre console in the new Golf VI has become a star, and was nominated for this year's SPE Award, the Oscar among car prizes. In the category "Body Interior", the unit took an impressive second place.


Key Plastics — Facts

Internationally operating company supporting the automotive supply industry. 23 production firms (nine in North America, twelve in Europe, two in Asia). Principle products: door handle modules, tank lock caps, mirror lining, body panels, centre consoles, beverage-holders, radio screens, belt and height adjustment. In Europe the three branch offices are in Germany and one each in the Czech Republic and Spain for the Northern Group. Lennestadt: technology and design development, engineering and tool construction; 350 persons employed and 2,200 construction units of the centre console are manufactured per day in Lennestadt.
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