Johnson Controls Inc. wants to help automakers do away with scuff marks in car interiors.
The auto supplier has developed a film laminate for high-traffic spots such as door sills, sport utility vehicle cargo areas and the base of center consoles, so those locations can better resist wear and tear.
The film can eliminate the need for paint, resist scratches and mars, and improve recyclability of interior parts since they are made of the same material as the plastics they cover, said Michael Warsaw, design and marketing vice president for JCI's auto interiors unit. The film program is part of an updated package of interior part offerings that Plymouth, Mich.-based JCI rolled out to carmakers during the North American International Auto Show, held Jan. 19-27 in Detroit.
JCI developed the proprietary thin film, which will first appear in a European vehicle later this year for the cargo area and on door pillars, Warasw said in a Jan. 13 interview at the show.
The company also is looking to boost its environmental aspects with its new Ecobond headliner, which replaces the typical structural glass in ceiling panels with natural materials such as flax, kenaf and hemp. About 20 percent of the urethane foam would come from soybean-based oils while soy-based urethane also would be used as the binding resin, said Jeff Williams, vice president and general manager North America for JCI's Automotive Experience business group.
The natural fibers make the headliners easier to recycle in regions where automotive plastics are incinerated at the end of the vehicle's life to reclaim the energy use. Glass melts at high temperatures, coating the inside of incinerators. The flax, hemp and other materials will burn without residue. JCI already uses natural fibers in other car parts including door panels.
The Ecobond headliner is 50 percent bio-based material by weight, Williams said.
JCI also has added to its ``CrafTec'' line of interior parts with the ``PerfectFit'' process, which eliminates visible gaps between different colors on parts such as door panels. The process relies on a vacuum formed skin made either of PVC or a thermoplastic polyolefin, which uses less expensive tooling and can be painted and ``stitched'' more easily away from the injection molding press.
The skin is inserted into the press where a polyolefin substrate is molded behind it. The pressure of the press and the shape of the substrate complete the look on the panel and its skin, providing its final shape.
Neither the PefectFit nor the EcoBond has won business on an upcoming vehicle yet, although the company just began showing them to customers, said Richard Arnold, JCI's executive director of product planning for interiors.