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
Companies & Associations

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

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

German auto supplier opening first US plant

April 17, 2015 11:00 am ET

Automotive supplier EuWe Eugen Wexler U.S. Plastics Inc. is investing $11.1 million to open a manufacturing facility in Anderson County, S.C., the...    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary,...    More

Image

Spain's Grupo Antolin to buy Magna's interiors business

April 16, 2015 12:33 pm ET

Spain's Grupo Antolin has reached an agreement to purchase Canadian auto supply giant Magna International Inc.'s interiors unit in a deal valued at...    More

Image

Hanwha Azdel adds capacity in Lynchburg

April 16, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Composite maker Hanwha Azdel Inc. will add space and a new production line at its Lynchburg, Va., production facility, the company announced April 16.    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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

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

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

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events