Spectrum Cubic Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., is trying to woo carmakers and suppliers to an alternate way to decorate plastic.
The firm promoted its hydrographics, rather than in-mold decorating, for high-profile interior plastic trim, at SAE International's World Congress in Detroit.
The cubic printing technique, first developed in Japan, prints designs on water soluble film that is transferred onto plastics and dipped into a liquid bath. It works well on parts with more complex shapes, said Emily Intrain, new-product design manager. It already is in use on some auto parts, including the tortoise shell pattern on the steering wheel of Chrysler LLC's 300.
The auto industry is looking at the process as a way to differentiate its cars, Intrain said.