Bayer materials and processes press automakers' buttons

Troy, Mich., May 1, 2012 — To win over consumers, automotive interior designs must feature improved component functionality without sacrificing an elegant, luxurious appearance. Two recent innovations illustrate how materials and process technologies developed by Bayer MaterialScience LLC are helping automotive OEMs satisfy this trend.

Bayer recently created a concept center stack – the console between the driver and passenger seats where many instrument panel controls, such as audio and temperature, are located – incorporating available advanced materials and processes. By using the high pressure forming (HPF) process to form Makrofol® polycarbonate film, Bayer developed an all-in-one center console, which integrates a back-lit LCD module, printed hidden symbols and printed electronic capacitive switches to provide drivers high functionality in one contained part.

Recognizing the potential behind this concept, automakers are taking this idea from concept to practice. One example is using Makrofol DE 9-2 polycarbonate film and Makrolon® 2207 polycarbonate resin to form an interior overhead console capacitive touch switch assembly. The switch provides solid state capacitive touch activation, which embodies the automotive industry trend of integrating exciting and valuable technology to improve overall driving experience.

Makrofol DE 9-2 film provides a unique texture with a uniform, low-gloss appearance that meets designers' requirements for appearance and function, as well as a very fine matte finish upon which layers of ink are printed, matching the car's interior colors. The low-gloss appearance is maintained through the decorating, forming and molding process, reducing fingerprints when the film is touched to activate the capacitive switches. Additional layers of conductive ink are printed on the film in an engineered pattern, creating the electrical circuits for the switch that controls several vehicle functions, including interior lights, a garage door opener and the moon roof.

After printing, the film is formed into the shape of the interior overhead console using HPF, which maintains the functionality of the electrical circuits. To complete the console assembly, Makrolon polycarbonate resin is injection molded behind the film's second surface using a film insert molding process.

Overall, the switch offers an extremely thin profile, reducing the component's thickness from 2.75 inches to 0.25 inches, and reducing weight by 70 percent when compared with traditional overhead consoles. This integration represents not only space and weight savings, but advances the technology of printed electronics on Makrofol film for automotive interiors.

More details about these and other automotive interior film technologies will be discussed during the Society of Plastics Engineers' AutoEPCON event in Troy, Mich. Doug Stratton, Functional Films Business Development, Bayer MaterialScience LLC, will present "New Concept for Vehicle Integrated Large Center Stack Design, Material & Process Technology," addressing the challenges auto makers face and the various solutions Bayer can offer for center stack, overhead console and instrument panel design and development.

About Bayer MaterialScience LLC:

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of polymers and high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with approximately 14,800 employees at 30 production sites around the world and 2011 sales of 10.8 billion euros. Bayer MaterialScience's 2011 sales in North America were $2.9 billion. The company manufactures high-tech polymer materials and develops innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries. Sustainability is central to Bayer MaterialScience LLC's business and is based around the key areas of innovation, product stewardship, excellence in corporate management, social responsibility and respect for the environment.


Sean Kelly, Phone: 412-777-5200

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