Materials and technologies for tomorrow’s interiors*
“New mobility concepts will lead to different design of cars,” said Markus Steilemann, Covestro CEO, at the recent K 2019 fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. “Individual mobility will not disappear, nor mobility supported by passenger vehicles, but we have to think again in different contexts.”
Curved 3D displays and thin control panels
Polycarbonate enables the creation of large, curved displays to seamlessly integrate control functions. The concept’s display features Covestro’s translucent Makrolon® Ai with Makrofol® film to give high optical purity and super-precise resolution of imagery, and its surface treatments promise high scratch and chemical resistance.
Similar materials are used in the overhead control panel, where LEDs and Makrolon® resin are embedded between two films. “Two functional films are thermoformed, inserted into a tool and Makrolon is injected in between for the component stiffness and light guiding properties. It’s extremely thin,” explained project manager Jan Helmig, showing Car Design News around the concept.
Such polycarbonate films can further contain printed electronics and Covestro claims that such super-thin smart control surfaces can reduce electronics weight and assembly depth. These can be applied in decorative parts such as door trim and cover panels, and in areas such as seat armrests.
Working with light
“We work a lot with ambient light by using our materials in an innovative way,” said Hardt, pointing out the smart-window displays with active screens, as well as overhead and in-seat embedded lighting: Makrolon® allows for both back- and edge-lighting. Illumination can be dynamic and communicative, or atmospheric, relaxing and homely, and Covestro expects growing demand for ever-more personalized lighting experiences and functionalities.
The polycarbonate window glazing can be switched between an opaque state and complete translucency for privacy or maximum visibility, automatically defaulting to translucency in the event of electrical power loss.
New mobility concepts will lead to different design of cars
Super-slim seats and structures
The concept’s seats showcase a thermoplastic and polycarbonate-based composite called Maezio™. “We thought about how to make a lightweight and stable structure out of our materials: coatings from our raw materials, and then the whole shell out of our carbon composite, in a sandwich structure,” said Helmig. “It also gives a very good surface quality and you can paint it very easily.” Maezio™ features again behind the dash and on the super-slim, foldable table which has visual appeal from the unidirectional strands of fibers, very different from the traditional woven fabrics. Such a super-slim table can be tailored to working on the go, and to other new scenarios in autonomous vehicles.
Over the center seat structure and foam, a water-based, non-solvent artificial leather textile called Insqin® – lighter than PVC and supporting a wide variety of color treatments – is applied. “This is translucent; you can highlight the seat, create textures and also branding,” Helmig added.
Mobility must become more efficient
Innovations for design flexibilityThe flooring is of strong but lightweight polycarbonate composites and polyurethanes which can even support a layer of marble. “You can have a real stone, just a very thin layer: you have the surface properties and the quality, but you don’t need big tiles,” said Helmig. “You can also illuminate it.”
Covestro’s polycarbonates and films continue on components including the glove box cover, illuminated air vents and touchpads; and polyurethane foam acts as a sound-canceller in the ‘privacy hood’ which can be lowered over the rear seats.
Jan Helmig concluded his tour of the concept by saying: “It’s all about multi functionalities and ambience lighting, the HMI connectivity, personalized atmosphere or privacy and efficiency in energy, weight and space – all that is enabled by our materials. It’s giving design flexibility, but is sturdy and lightweight at the same time.”
It’s all about multi functionalities and ambience lighting, the HMI connectivity, personalized atmosphere or privacy and efficiency in energy, weight and space – all that is enabled by our materials.