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The household of tomorrow: Polycarbonate powers future-forward home products

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Picture yourself in the year 2024. A lot of things will change between now and then, including the technology inside your home and the products you use every day. We’re exploring how household devices and appliances design will evolve and how polycarbonate can power these future innovations.

The convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and social trends is driving change in home interior design. Future home products will need to be more automated, customized, humanized, integrated and interactive than ever before. As designers and manufacturers work with these trends in mind, they need a materials partner to help realize their future innovations.

We’re staying ahead of the game by anticipating what the household devices and appliances designs of tomorrow will look like. These products will be smart, mobile, integrated, modular, customized and, of course, defined by sustainability. To bring these designs to life, they will need reliable and versatile materials that have a good balance of aesthetics and functions while enabling sustainable solutions. This, in turn, will create more design freedom.

To achieve the desired look and feel, future-ready materials must unleash new Colors, Materials and Finishes (CMF) possibilities (think shape, form, color, gloss, pattern and texture). They are expected to enable connectivity, smarter interfaces, automation features, higher product safety standards and easier maintenance. Sustainability will continue to be top-of-mind for designers and consumers alike, so the whole device or specific parts should be reusable or recyclable and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

We found polycarbonate to be a great material for the home devices of tomorrow. Our broad portfolio, which includes grades that are flame-retardant, impact- and heat-resistant, dimensionally stable, signal transparent or recyclable, meets all requirements for these emerging products.

Through our Future Home project, we’re unveiling five forward-looking design concepts that incorporate our material solutions.

Integrating intuitive IoT

Our intuitive IoT control device features personalized access control for a tangible user experience. When designing this prototype, we chose Makrolon® polycarbonate for connectivity and tangibility. This material offers good IR transmittance for user recognition and enables precise patterns and a one-shell design. It also helps create a matt screen surface for less reflection and glare. A high-gloss black-panel effect version is also available for the screen display.

Additionally, our Makrolon® PC-IM-FR is a great choice for creating chargeable devices with high energy efficiency thanks to its excellent impact resistance and thin-wall flame-retardant properties.

 Sensing smart skin care

Personal care products are going high-tech, and this means a revamped look with smart functions that sense personal needs. We designed a smart skin care device that features sensor and light treatment functions as well as a re-fillable cream cartridge to minimize one-time packages.

Touchable aesthetics are possible with Makroblend® PC+PET blend. This material offers good chemical resistance, anti-scratch performance and low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

For this device, we also turned to our Makrolon® polycarbonate for rigidity and transparency. It delivers good light transmission for light treatment use and is compatible for smooth skin contact. Since the device will also be used to clean and massage users’ skin, it’s important for it to provide soft haptics and good abrasion resistance. This is achieved using our Desmopan® TPU.

Our concepts will show the different CMF solutions possible with these materials.

Creating cord-free air care

We’re taking air treatment on-the-go with a cord-free device that features lithium-ion battery charging and a motion sensor. This portable concept is part of a modular and multi-functional appliance system which allows the user to choose the functionalities that match their individual lifestyle. Looking for a more sustainable solution? The high level of standardization and modularization of the system allows the potential use of recycled materials, and the product’s components can be easily  adjusted, upgraded or refurnished based on the user’s needs to expand the product’s life-span.

For our prototype, we turned to flame-retardant Bayblend® PC+ABS for safety and versatility. This lightweight, impact-resistant material is ideal for portability, while its flame-retardant properties help with battery integration.

Our flame-retardant Makrolon® polycarbonate also delivers precision and aesthetics while enabling diverse color options for a free-shell design. Additionally, it provides good heat resistance for durable performance.

We’re exploring how home product design will change over the next five years so that we speak the same design language as our customers, offer material solutions that fit into future trends, identify gaps and develop material solutions for future needs.

Andreas Brandt

vice president of marketing for electronics, electrical and appliances – Polycarbonates, Covestro.

Cleaning and transporting with an AI-embedded robot

Cleaning can be tedious and time-consuming, but we’re helping make it easier with an AI-embedded cleaning robot called Cargo Bot. This device features extra transportation functions so that it can connect to a smart community and logistics. 

Our flame-retardant and IR transmitting Makrolon® polycarbonate brings robustness and strength while offering excellent impact resistance. The IR window designed in high-gloss, piano black can stably deliver high IR transmission and, at the same time, conceal complex inner structures underneath. Additionally, flame-retardant and lightweight Bayblend® PC+ABS blend delivers impact-resistance, safety and versatility. This material can be UV-stabilized for better color retention.

Focusing on the task at hand

Working doesn’t always take place in the office. Our modular work zone system seamlessly blends into your home interior design for a connected work-from-home or co-work experience.

Our Makrolon® polycarbonate offers great light diffusion for softer and smoother lighting. Precision and safety are possible with our Makrolon® PC-IM-FR, which also features high dimensional stability, excellent impact resistance and flame retardance. Lastly, we turned to flame-retardant Bayblend® PC+ABS blend for function integration and modern aesthetics. Ease-of-use is important, and this lightweight material ensures our modular work zone is portable, for high user flexibility.

  • Makrolon® polycarbonate is robust, heat-resistant and flame-retardant as a tough, yet lightweight material.
  • Makrolon® polycarbonate features transparency for glass-like optical quality and great light diffusion performance.
  • Bayblend® creates flame-retardant and design-friendly products.
  • Makroblend® creates touchable aesthetics and features good chemical resistance.
  • Desmopan® enables soft haptics and good abrasion resistance.

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