There’s a cool new backlighting technology on display at the 63rd International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The instrument luster on BMW’s new 5-series features inverse forming technology for three-dimensional black panel film that has no distorted effects. In conventional thermoforming, thinning occurs at certain places on the film causing polarization in these areas in the form of rainbow-like distortions known as Newton’s rings. Achim Hosenfeld, vice president electronics at Johnson Controls, says: “Unlike before, the film is placed down into the forming tool. The result is a special embossed surface structure that is imprinted by the texture of the tool. This eliminates the need for an expensive anti-reflective coating and also makes the display easy to read.”
The black 3D film produces a smooth transition between the flat printed surfaces of the analog instruments and the digital information display.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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