Consumers are increasingly looking for vehicles that integrate the newest technologies into the center stack - the console between the driver and passenger seats where many dashboard controls, such as audio and temperature, are located. Automotive designers and engineers are challenging developers of materials and process technology to help meet these requirements and enhance functionality during the driving experience.
|Bayer's concept center stack created by high pressure forming allows automotive designers and engineers to integrate high levels of functionality with precision and elegance.|
Douglas Stratton, Functional Film Business Development, Bayer MaterialScience LLC (Pittsburgh, PA), focused on solutions to these material and process challenges during his presentation, "New Concepts for Vehicle Integrated Center Stack Design, Material & Process Technology." The presentation took place at during the ITB Automotive Cockpit and Door Modules Conference in Birmingham, MI.
Stratton discussed a Bayer concept center stack created by high pressure forming (HPF) Makrofol HF 278 G-4 polycarbonate film. HPF, a method developed by Bayer, allows plastic film to be formed at lower temperatures, with sharp forming edges and no top surface contact. HPF helps prevent distortion in printing, allowing for more accurate positioning of imprinted motifs. The process also allows for the integration of light diffusing technology, back panel lighting and the use of printed electronics in the stack design. Stratton discussed the HPF process, as well as some of its other potential applications, such as speedometer dials and HVAC panels.
In a concept study, Makrofol HF 278 G-4 was UV-cured and coated with Norilux DC-3 formable Dual-Cure-Lacquer from Pröll (Weißenburg in Bayern, Germany), providing the center stack with superior scratch resistance, good formability, high chemical resistance and high gloss. Makrofolpolycarbonate light diffusing film was also incorporated into the stack concept, which provided high performance aspects such as brightness, transmittance and processability for the integrated LCD backlight module.
Makrofol LM 296, a grade engineered for black panel technology applications in automotive vehicles, was also discussed. Additionally, Stratton talked about the incorporation of ViviTouch Actuator haptic technology developed by a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer MaterialScience subsidiary, Artificial Muscle Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA), enabling high fidelity touch feedback, making the switch feel like a real button.
"As drivers demand increasingly innovative and attractive vehicles, center stack consoles will continue to integrate high levels of functionality with precision and elegance," said Stratton. "This concept stack offers a comprehensive view of the materials Bayer has available for automotive designers and engineers."-[email protected]