To make Cellasto, a urethane product, different raw material chemicals are combined and poured into a closed mold. As they react, the chemicals off-gas and generate carbon dioxide. Because it isn’t trapped in the matrix of the chemistry, it forms a foam as opposed to a solid material.

This flexible material is used in cars to minimize noise from the engine and isolating vibrations from the chassis, shock absorbers and struts. Prior to the introduction of Cellasto, many car suspensions used rubber as a shock-absorber. This product was introduced as a higher-quality alternative to the traditional material.

“Rubber is a solid material, so it weighs more,” Shrewsburg says. “Because Cellasto is a foam, it is lighter and more flexible. Compressibility is an issue with rubber.”
If you’ve ever driven a car and been impressed by its smooth ride, quiet cabin or handling – odds are, it’s because of Cellasto®. Produced, processed and sold by BASF Performance Materials, Cellasto is one of the only complete products brought to the market by BASF. This microcellular polyurethane elastomer has been found for decades in most cars around the world, sought-after for its use as a spring aid and reducer of noise, vibration and harshness. “Cellasto is unique because we are not selling the raw material to make it. We produce the raw material in-house, and then we process it in-house into a final product. The product that goes out our door ends up on a vehicle as-is, without any further processing throughout the value chain,” says Timothy J. Shrewsburg, Sales & Engineering Manager for Cellasto.
While highly valued in other markets, the automotive industry is where Cellasto shines. BASF is a Tier One automotive supplier for this product, so, Shrewsburg says, “we make a lot of Cellasto.” All told, BASF ships millions individual pieces of Cellasto every year.
The process for selling a completed automotive product is vastly different than selling raw materials. Suppliers to the automotive industry must verify that each and every product or component that leaves their facility is fit for use in an automotive assembly plant.
The compressibility of Cellasto versus the competition.
Cellasto is a versatile material for use in automobiles.
Every year, BASF ships millions of individual pieces of Cellasto.”
Compressibility, as it relates to suspension, goes beyond a comfortable ride. It can also prevent adjacent automotive parts from experiencing unnecessary wear-and-tear. “It is very durable,” Shrewsburg says. “There is a lot of weight sitting on top of this little piece of foam, and it doesn't break.”
Because of these properties, Cellasto is utilized in markets beyond automotive. It is also used as bump stops in elevators, conveyor-rollers, wheelchairs or bicycle-wheel forks, window hinges – even electric shavers.
“Shavers today move very fast and at a very high frequency,” Shrewsburg says. “Without our component in there, it would shake violently. But consumers don’t feel that because, in many shavers today, there is a really small piece of Cellasto.”
“Every single piece, before it is shipped, is inspected to ensure there are no defects that would render the part not useful or not functional,” Shrewsburg says.

Cellasto products that reach the market are spread across 450 different article numbers. Some articles sell about 1,000 per year. Others, such as parts that are used in the extremely popular Ford F-150 trucks, sell significantly more.

In the 55 years it has been on the market, Cellasto has been used in many parts of automotive suspension systems, including jounce bumpers. Jounce bumpers help to absorb both impact and noise. Cellasto has proven to be so efficient for use as a jounce bumper that it can now be found in every second car manufactured in the world. While this is fantastic for BASF, customers generally prefer to keep things competitive.

“Now, our customers will tell us: we don’t want you to be our only supplier, we want there to be competition,” Shrewsburg says. “They don’t want a monopoly.”
So, how do you grow when you’ve reached the near-top of your game? Because of its incredible versatility, Cellasto presents an opportunity for growth in many other parts of the car. Shrewsburg says that BASF is increasing Cellasto’s sales in coil spring isolator applications, top mount applications and more. “There’s still a lot of rubber that we’re competing against in these applications,” Shrewsburg says. “But we’re still pushing into the markets, and we’ve done very well.”

Cellasto is a multipurpose product that has become an automotive industry staple. Here’s a look at its lifecycle from creation in a plant to its activity in the market.

From chemistry to customer


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