Trends such as autonomous driving, networking and individualisation will offer significant opportunities for the use of polycarbonate and thermoplastic polyurethane films in cars of the future, according to Dirk Pophusen, film specialist at Covestro AG.
Pophusen will be the technical director of the conference “Folien+Fahrzeug”, which roughly translates as films and vehicles, in February, and will study development of film technologies for car interiors.
In a press release reviewing Covestro presentations at the conference, the Leverkusen, Germany-based materials company said it predicted that the number of displays and touchscreens in car interiors will increase drastically.
This, it said, was “due to the progressing digitisation and connectivity as well as the trend towards autonomous driving.”
“Large-surface, three-dimensional screen designs that can be seamlessly integrated into the surfaces of instrument panels, centre consoles, door and seat panels are a current trend,” Covestro said in a 1 Feb statement.
One of the key features of the consoles and panels is to have a high-contrast image and clearly legible information – even in adverse lighting conditions.
Covestro said it had 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, these displays can be adjusted from high gloss to fine matt and are resistant to chemicals and scratches.
According to Covestro, the product is used in touch displays with a filigree 3D surface.
In addition, Covestro will also be presenting on the applications for films based on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in car interiors.
Commenting on TPUs, Covestro film expert, Oliver Hennig, described them as “silent heroes".
A new promising application for TPUs is the so-called "flexible electronics", in which the elastic TPU films are equipped with electronic functions such as traces or sensor elements.
"LEDs can also be integrated. The resulting film build-ups can be formed into geometrically highly complex decorative parts that provide lighting effects," explained Hennig.
"With their extreme flexibility and good adhesion to textiles, TPU films offer the best prerequisites for integrating the required conductor path electronics into door panels, for example," he added.