Covestro's Lou Madrid, market development manager, pointed out the use of a material — most likely polycarbonate — in piano black, which achieves a high-gloss or wet look, on the EQA's roof.
"If you take a look at the roof there on the vehicle, you have a glazing and then you have a spoiler. … You can barely see the seam, but it's actually two different types of materials. They almost look exactly the same," Madrid said.
Achieving this level of seamlessness or uniformity is a challenge both automakers and suppliers face as they try to harmonize colors on varied materials.
"One of the things that we have found is black is not black. … Different OEMs have a different black," Platte said.
In addition, the use of black for hidden sensors and backlit areas requires two different color batches to achieve both translucence and opaqueness, he added.
"When everything is off, the stylist wants it to look the same color, but we have to work behind the scenes to actually have a different coloring package," Platte said. "When it's illuminated, you get the effects you want, and when it's not illuminated, it looks homogenous, so this whole idea of seamless goes [into] color seamless."
On vehicle interiors, Madrid shared how OEMs are using piano black in trim areas to avoid large areas of unsightly blemishes, such as fingerprints and scratches.
"The limitations with piano black are those kinds of defects, [such as fingerprints]," Madrid said. "We have a technology today where it will enable the OEM to have larger areas of piano black."
The technology, called DirectCoating, combines thermoplastic injection molding with reaction injection molding in a single mold and delivers a finished thermoplastic part with a customized polyurethane coating, the company said. The finished parts are ultraviolet stable and scratch- and chemical-resistant.
Platte said the DirectCoating technology is "approaching release" in the next year or so with an OEM. He could not comment on which automaker Covestro is working with on the launch, however.
"One thing that a designer has talked to me about is in order to have those lighting effects pop, you've got to have black," Platte said, referencing the high-gloss and low-gloss black materials used on the interior and exterior of the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz concept. "You've got to have it, so black is becoming more and more important as lighting is becoming more and more important. To me, it's another one of these dichotomies that is happening."