The development of film technologies for car interiors has made great progress in recent years. Trends such as autonomous driving, networking and individualisation pose entirely new challenges, but also offer great opportunities for the use of polycarbonate and thermoplastic polyurethane films.
The number of displays and touchscreens in car interiors is set to increase dramatically due to progress in digitisation and networking (connectivity).
Large-surface, three-dimensional screen designs that can be seamlessly integrated into the surfaces of instrument panels, centre consoles, and door and seat panels are a current trend according to film specialist manufacturing Covestro.
What is also important is a high-contrast image and legible information—even in adverse lighting conditions. Displays must not reflect light or dazzle (requiring anti-glare performance).
Covestro has developed Makrofol HF, a two-stage curable film that can be formed over a large area and is especially suitable for the edging and trimming of such displays. Depending on the optical requirements, the films can be adjusted from high gloss to fine matte, and are resistant to chemicals and scratches.
Touch displays with a filigree 3D surface are a new application for Makrofol films. They enable the driver to control the display and its functions simply by touching them without having to turn their eyes away from the road. This improves road safety.
There is a wide range of possible applications for films based on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in car interiors. These are present—although not always visible—in many parts of the car interior, such as textile laminates in roller blinds for sunroofs, as air chambers for lumbar supports of car seats or as foam shrouds for noise-reduction components.
Another promising application is the so-called flexible electronics. The elastic TPU films are embedded with processors with electronic functions such as traces and sensor elements. LEDs can also be integrated. The resulting film buildups can be formed into geometrically complex decorative parts that provide lighting effects.
Flexible electronics based on TPU films can also potentially be used in electric vehicles for panel heating of large surface areas in car interiors and could replace the expensive exhaust air heating of traditional combustion engines.
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