The transformation of the motor vehicle continues. Alternative powertrains, autonomous driving and the desire for more durability are fundamentally changing vehicle design and the driving experience.
In particular, the interior of the car undergoes an extreme metamorphosis and becomes, in essence, a mobile office and living room. Key components such as the dashboard are transformed into entertainment units with screens for video conferencing. Such electronic devices with additional functions require ever higher data rates. This translates into high demands on the high-performance equipment deployed and therefore on the electronic components and materials used. In addition, there is a need to reduce weight and adopt more compact components due to less available space.
German data cable company MD Elektronik has taken up these challenges and, with the help of engineering plastics supplier BASF, has developed the USB Type-C compliant C-KLIC connector system. Ultradur B 4300 G4 is a glass fiber reinforced polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) suitable for use in vehicles and requires up to 60% less space than a standard USB port due to its material properties. In addition, the device has a data transfer rate > 10 GB / s and optional USB power supply.
“Our goal was to produce as many individual parts of the connector system as possible with identical material,” explained MD Elektronik colleagues Markus Kaaserer, Techno Polymers expert, and Johannes Trä, Development Manager. “It simplifies processing, is much more efficient, and contributes to sustainability by reducing material changes on production machinery. Thanks to BASF’s extensive product portfolio, we had several solutions to choose from.”
Due to the properties of the material, Ultradur is used in the connect+adapter (CPA), code box and internal overmolding. The PBT grade displays all its resistance, especially in the internal component. In addition, thanks to its electrical properties and dimensional stability, engineering plastic protects sensitive electronics from external influences such as moisture and dirt. Compared to a standard USB charging module with integrated electronics, the new connector system can be produced in much smaller dimensions, which saves space and weight.
“This new development underscores the move towards in-car infotainment,” said Bernd Skupin, Global Key Account Manager of BASF’s Performance Materials Division. “The connector system enables much greater data transmission than the systems used in current cars. With the ever-increasing demand for high-performance electronic devices in vehicles, we can use our expertise to provide excellent support for new developments.”
Ultradur quality meets another important requirement, according to Volker Zeiher, senior specialist, technical development, BASF. “Thanks to the very good dimensional stability and low moisture absorption, tight tolerances can be maintained regardless of the ambient conditions in the vehicle.” Therefore, the automotive-compatible connector design represents an ideal solution for future vehicle concepts, which is another step towards a living room on wheels.