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The future of car interiors glows with advances in ambient lighting

We’re living through a mobility evolution! Changing behaviors and technology are affecting how we get from place to place. Now’s the time to challenge the status quo, especially when it comes to cabin design.
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The best way to differentiate today’s vehicles against competition: an exceptional cabin experience

For the last 20 years, auto innovation has been primarily driven by performance—what’s under the hood—and exterior styling. But what about the environment where travelers spend all of their time?  Remarkably, interior innovation has taken a backseat. But that’s about to change.

With megatrends, including autonomous driving, electrification and personalization challenging the status quo, the time is right for the cabin experience to steal the spotlight from exteriors and engines.

With advances in technologies, people are using and interacting with vehicles differently than they have in the past. This trend is accelerating, with the car of the future emerging as a dynamic working and living space.

Of course, changing preferences can be difficult to predict. This makes the speed of innovation and development vital for OEMs — and the possibilities for interior cabin design endless.

For automotive design engineers, there’s no better place to be right now. When it comes to car interiors, the playground expands every day.

This also means the pressure is on. Many engineers are venturing into unknown territory. They are transitioning from working on mostly exterior vehicle applications to pioneering new interior designs. On a daily basis, and through lots of trial and error, they’re exploring ideas, uncovering new angles, tweaking processes and testing materials.

However, there’s less time to tinker than many engineers would prefer. In this highly competitive market, speed is vital when bringing new interior concepts to life. OEM approval, especially when facing scale-up challenges, is not a given either.

As overall project complexity mounts, engineers find themselves challenged in particular by changing ambient lighting design concepts. They’re going the extra mile to advance new illumination technologies that will help them develop new product lines, broaden automaker portfolios and distance themselves from the competition.

Where standard polycarbonate and glass can’t do the job, Makrolon® Ai polycarbonate can

Lighting is powerful: It can set a vibe or affect a mood. But picking the right material is critical. To produce transparent, high-quality optical parts, the material must be free of surface defects and impurities. Fortunately, engineers can be assured that purity is our differentiator. This is essential to reduce the cost of rejects, especially when incorporating expensive electronic components and matching different elements into one system.

And there’s more to consider.

In most cases, LED technology is accompanied by additional electronic components, the narrowest space limitations, heat, and complex software to run light effects. Makrolon® Ai is up to the task!

And Makrolon® Ai offers a combination of properties that is miles ahead of the competition. When selecting this material, OEMs get proven color, materials and finish. In fact, this plastic is known for its brilliant colors, high color homogeneity, quality consistency and narrow viscosity range.

The result? Dynamic lighting solutions that are dramatic, differentiating, emotional and aesthetic. All at once.

Take the journey with a partner who knows the road ahead

Most design engineers recognize that standard polycarbonate and glass can no longer meet the requirements of today’s interior light concepts. But that doesn’t mean that they can provide a ready-made alternative themselves.

Fortunately, they don’t have to travel this road alone—they can collaborate, co-create and joint prototype with other players in the value chain.

With this support, there’s no need for engineers to be experts in all aspects—including molding and production--of increasingly complex ambient lighting technologies. From complex light effects in premium vehicles to advanced molding and secondary processes such as plating and laser engraving, having a partner like Covestro whose technology has been tried and tested, and whose partnership can be counted on, can provide much-needed confidence.

Covestro is supported by a broad network of technology partners, has complementary technologies and global availability that fuels collaboration. And at launch, we help with the delivery and support of this technology to the OEM.

The options for large in-cabin displays are really endless — the possibilities with 3D, eye-level projections are especially exciting — and our highly transparent and high purity Makrolon® Ai polycarbonate is made to keep design engineers dreaming big and turning possibilities into real products. Among the types of technology it enables, we’re seeing XXL sizes, curved 3D shapes, safety-replacing glass components, optical performance, touch, sensors and cameras, aesthetic surface design patterns, back-lit multi-material surfaces and more.

Ciro Piermatteo

Covestro, Global Technical Marketing Interior

Key Benefits

  • Differentiation Ability to translate design into technically feasible glass-like light effects
  • Convenience Highly optical material in brilliant or light diffusion colors … available off-the-shelf
  • Ease Integration of simple decorative light elements made easy
  • Cost Reduction of rejects due to fewer visual defects in expensive components
  • Safety Alternative to glass and that addresses concerns about passenger safety
  • Style Black appearance (or other colors) for seamless integration with other interior parts

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