Ford and BASF to build plant-sourced instrument panels

New castor-oil based material to save 5,000 barrels of oil per 300,000 vehicles built

October 3, 2011   by Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

DEARBORN, Mich.—Ford and BASF have developed a plant-sourced, castor oil-based foam for the 2012 Ford Focus’ instrument panel.

The companies expect the new material to save 5,000 barrels of oil for every 300,000 Focus’ produced in North America.

The castor oil blend is more durable and minimizes component stretch to, aiding airbag deployment. Castor oil is derived from the tropical plant Ricinus Communis.

The plant’s oil forms a sustainable interior foam and does not compete with food sources.


The new foam is more durable than materials currently used, with a 36 per cent higher tensile strength, which measures the foam’s ability to hold its shape over time and use.

Tear strength is also improved by five per cent while elongation (stretch under temperature or impact stress) is reduced by almost 12 percent.

The castor-oil based foam takes 43 per cent less time to cure, improving productivity.

The 2012 Focus, outfitted with the new material, will be manufactured at a Ford plant in Wayne, Mich., but the sedan is also produced in Portugal, Russia, Vietnam, Spain, Germany and the Philippines.

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