Sponsored By

Films for automotive interiors enable new lighting effects and functional integration.

Clare Goldsberry

January 18, 2017

2 Min Read
Covestro drives innovation in vehicle instrument panels

Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany) has developed a range of films for automotive interiors with the focus on displays and operating panels that are protected by scratch-resistant, glare-free materials. These films enable new lighting effects and the integration of functions into the instrument panel, and are part of a new concept for vehicle interiors that also takes into account trends such as increasing networking and customization, electric mobility and autonomous driving.

Covestro constructed and first used a “demonstrator” electronic display at the K 2016 plastics trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. The company again plans to demonstrate its film solutions at other events in Germany, notably the Folien + Fahrzeug conference (Feb. 8 and 9, 2017, in Bad Kissingen) and the VDI Plastics in Automotive Engineering conference on March 29 and 30 in Mannheim.

Many of the film solutions were created in close collaboration with partners from various sections of the process chain, including film processing by printing, shaping and back-injection molding; surface galvanization; mold construction; and integrated electronics.

A current high priority is the process of seamlessly integrating displays into the large, three-dimensional surfaces of instrument panels and central consoles. “This meets consumer desire for a quality, comfortable atmosphere in the interior,” said Dirk Phusen, Film Specialist at Covestro and Chairperson of the consulting committee for the Folien + Fahrzeug conference.

The Makrofol HF polycarbonate products are available in various matte grades, are formable in three dimensions and have a scratch-resistant coating. Thanks to a special layer of coating that is only pre-cured, the films can be formed and back-injected using film insert molding after printing. Between shaping and back-injecting, the coating is fully cured using UV lamps.

Another application for polycarbonate films integrated into the demonstrator are switches with “flying symbols.” These center on an innovative combination of printed films and cutting-edge injection molding techniques, creating switches with a kind of optical 3D effect. During production, several layers of Makrofol DE films are printed with various symbols. Their bottom layer has a patterned reverse side. The top layer consists of a particularly scratch-resistant film. Covestro explained that when a switch is printed with this film structure, various three dimensional images of the pattern on the reverse side appear, depending on whether the LED lighting comes from the side or from below.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like