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9/24/2018 | 2 MINUTE READ

Covestro Develops Design Concept for New Auto Front Module

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Functional solutions made of PC film and glazing in the most confined spaces.

With more than ten years of experience in the glass-like exterior parts automotive arena along with combining its film and glazing technologies, Covestro has devised a study for the development of an innovative front module that appears to address many requirements of the automotive industry.

The concept will be simultaneously presented by the company at the Fakuma trade fair in Friedrichshafen and the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) for the automotive industry in Wolfsburg.

Covestro’s development has been driven by “the state of upheaval in vehicle construction worldwide,” including alternative drive technologies such as electric mobility, new forms of connectivity and autonomous driving which require totally new car concepts. Included is the move toward a newly designed front section—an individual “face”—of the car, with seamless, glass-like surfaces that can be used for a variety of purposes.

The company anticipated that the front section of future automobiles will be characterized by three-dimensional, jointless and glass-like surfaces—the classic radiator grille will be obsolete. Explains Stefan Schulten, segment manager automotive in Covestro’s specialty films segment and responsible for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region: "It is not only the desire of car manufacturers to differentiate their models from the competition by designing them as individually as possible. It is also about integrating more and more functions in ever less space.”

The front section can already be designed in several different ways using a variety of decorated or semi-transparent films. Moreover, there are also lighting and signal functions such as those required for communication between an autonomous vehicle and pedestrians. One special variant is the black panel technology, in which a special Makrofol PC film with a light source behind it is illuminated. When switched off, passers-by see only a matte black surface.

The structure of Covestro’s front module prototype consists of a PC film printed with a colorful motif, for example the company logo, depending on customer requirements. The classic metal logo is replaced by a modern version.

This composite is then over-molded with transparent Makrolon AG PC using film insert molding technology (FIM). The flat surface and the depth effect of the PC create a glass-like appearance. Moreover, a three-dimensional effect is generated, despite the use of a flat Makrofol film. A transparent, scratch-resistant silicone hard-coating is also applied as the outermost layer.

This combination of PC resin and films and the coating creates a light, multifunctional part with the desired properties for use in car exterior. It also enables a glass-like design with embedded multidimensional structures, which can be amplified by light functions. The structure can be made permeable to radar and LiDAR radiation, also allows the integration of further functions, for example embedding heating wires for de-icing.