Magna technology brings high-tech look to car interiors

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 4, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Injection Molding, Machinery

ORLANDO, FLA. (April 4, 8 p.m. ET) — Molding and electronics are creating a whole new way to put your car radio controls at your fingertips.

Unlike the mechanical dials, switches and buttons — and the flat screen system used on some cars now — Magna International Inc.’s Intelligent Surface is a system that integrates a capacitor film through in-mold technology to create one part with touch control placed on sculptured shapes that fit nicely in a driver’s hand.

For the system on display at Engel Machinery Inc. (Booth 943), that combination of technologies has created a sample that is very familiar to anyone who has ever used a computer mouse.

“It’s a very intuitive shape,” said Mike West, manager of product/process development for Magna. “People like the way it feels, and it only takes them a few minutes to understand it.”

The part is made using Engel clearmelt technology and Magna’s capacitive foil. The foil is located on the back surface of the part, but is triggered by touch and allows a driver to easily adjust a car’s temperature, adjust the radio or even place a call. Unlike a flat screen surface, the molded surface allows the company to integrate a raised surface to guide a user’s finger along the controls, so it is easier to manipulate the controls without taking your eyes off the road.

“We are able to create real sculptured surfaces,” said Georg Laukart, executive director for product line cockpit and instrument panels with Magna’s operations in Europe.

The capacitive foil is not only flexible – allowing it to be used on curved surfaces – it can also work with a leather skin, which will allow automakers more design options for various car trim levels, and also allow drivers to operate the controls while wearing gloves, unlike a smart phone, West said.

Magna can also set the system to activate when it senses nearby movement rather than touch, which would, for instance, turn on a glove box light automatically when someone reaches into it.

At NPE2012, an Engel duo 350 injection molding machine is producing the center consoles. Using spin-stack technology, the thermoplastic center console top carrier, made of ABS-Polycarbonate is injected while a molded part, created in the previous cycle, is overmolded with polyurethane in the second half of the mold.

The capacitive foil is insert placed into the mold via linear robots.

Beyond the aesthetics of the curved surfaces and the operation, the capacitive film also allows Magna and its customers to cut the amount of space needed for electronic controls. Without bulky wiring harnesses, carmakers have more space inside the car for the driver and passengers. Interior suppliers also can reduce the gap required between parts, improving interior fit and finish, said Tom Pilette, vice president of product and process development.

In addition to its typical automotive customer base, Magna has been showing the integrated film technology to a variety of other industries, such as the makers of home spas and agricultural equipment. The film may launch in commercial production in any of those industries soon, West said.

The auto industry is changing, and plastics have a good future, Peter Neumann, Engel’s president and CEO, said at the machinery maker’s press conference April 3.

“The philosophy to build cars will change dramatically in the next 10 to 15 years, and for us in the plastics industry, this is a great opportunity,” Neumann said.

Just as the Magna center console combines a plastic substrate with foil with electrical connections, Neumann said future growth in automotive plastics will marry two or more materials, such as plastics and metal, and highly automated production.

“Engel has our own automation company, so we are really well prepared for the challenges,” he said.


Comments

Magna technology brings high-tech look to car interiors

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 4, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Automation firms join forces, look to automotive for future growth

October 24, 2014 2:43 pm ET

Hoping to ease the way for automation in some specialized areas of automotive plastics like laser cutting of door panels, a German robot maker and an ...    More

Image

Gerresheimer opens first development center in China

October 24, 2014 1:34 pm ET

Medical molder Gerresheimer AG has launched a development center for medical plastic systems in Dongguan, China.    More

Image

German export sales strong, push for energy savings continues

October 24, 2014 12:34 pm ET

Germany is the engine that drives the European economy — and when it comes to the plastics industry, German machinery is a potent force, an...    More

Image

Arburg expands presence in China

October 24, 2014 11:34 am ET

German machinery maker Arburg GmbH + Co KG has expanded its office in Shenzhen, China, making it the company's first competence center for automation ...    More

Image

SRG opens second China auto parts factory

October 24, 2014 11:25 am ET

U.S. automotive supplier SRG Global Inc. said Oct. 23 it is opening its second plant in China, an injection molding, plating and painting facility in ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events