And one more chair
* K 2010: From the designfabrik – new special-purpose chair by Kusch+Co
The uni_verso chair made by Kusch+Co will be exhibited at the K 2010 plastics trade fair, giving BASF an opportunity to showcase yet another chair that is on its way to serial production and that was created with the assistance of the designfabrik™. The seat of this special-purpose chair, made of the plastic Ultradur® (PBT), combines elegance with outstanding functionality, and it was developed with the aid of the universal simulation instrument ULTRASIM™. The chair will be on display at BASF’s stand (Hall 5, Stand C21/D21).
Kusch+Co Sitzmöbelwerke GmbH & Co KG – a seating furniture company in Hallenberg, in the Sauerland region of Germany – made very strict requirements of the new special-purpose chair: since this chair is intended for public spaces such as hospitals, airports, convention centers, conference rooms and waiting areas, it has to be ergonomic and sturdy, multifunctional, comfortable and esthetically pleasing. Together with Norbert Geelen, an industrial designer who works in Germany and Italy, experts at BASF’s designfabrik succeeded in rising to the challenge.
A glassfiber-reinforced variant of the plastic Ultradur was the right choice here. This material is break-proof, resistant to weathering and to UV radiation as well as to cleansers, and besides, it can easily be processed by injection molding. The requirements in terms of the design were also multifaceted: the designer was able to unite ergonomics and functionality with a look all of its own. The chair’s light appearance stems from its slender seat edges, the high backrest offers sitting comfort for long periods of time and hygiene considerations mean that there are no gaps, so that liquids can easily run off.
Designed on the computer
As was the case with the cantilever chair MYTO designed by Konstantin Grcic, and with the Vegetal chair inspired by nature and created by the Bouroullec brothers, BASF’s know-how in CAE (computer-aided engineering) was instrumental in the fast development of this chair. The mechanical optimization of the component involved close cooperation with the designer in order to modify parameters such as the wall thickness, with the objective of attaining sufficient strength and stiffness. For instance, the backrest has to withstand a load of 150 kg while bending back less than 20 cm. Engineers not only made use of classic filling simulations, but also turned to so-called morphing-based shape optimization, a constituent of the ULTRASIM™ simulation method that allows an even further reduction of the weight, taking into account the stringent mechanical boundary conditions as well as the vision of the designer.
The actual prototype underwent testing, including the tilt and drop test, at Kusch+Co’s own test laboratory: the chair had to withstand 100,000 “tilting” cycles before obtaining the German Safety (GS) certification that is issued by institutes such as TÜV Rheinland (German Technical Inspectorate). The components, which are relatively thick for the technique of injection molding, were made by Mecalit, a company located in Lichtenau in southern Germany, where the seat shell mold designed using ULTRASIM is employed for serial production.
BASF’s designfabrik™ is an institution founded in 2006 in BASF’s industrial terrain in Ludwigshafen and it serves as a platform whose doors are open to all customers who, as freelancers or company designers, require assistance in working with BASF materials. The consultation service encompasses not only BASF’s wide array of materials that serve as a source of inspiration for new products, but also the selection of the right material and production method. This is where BASF engineers provide assistance in the development of component design adapted to plastics, while BASF’s own designers assist with the aspects of appearance, color, surface and function.
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