The front grille on BMW's iX electric-drive SUV provides a smart surface that allows the automaker to embed sensors, cameras and radar systems behind its decorative exterior.
The iX was one of two grand innovation winners at the recent Society of Plastics Engineers Central Europe 20th Automotive Awards.
BMW's Dingolfing plant in Germany molds the panels on Engel machinery using an injection compression mold from Schechen, Germany-based Summerer Technologies GmbH & Co. KG, an automotive plastics glazing mold systems specialist for 40 years.
The kidney-shaped panel is molded from Makrolon AG2677, a medium-viscosity, UV-stabilized, easy-release polycarbonate automotive glazing material from Covestro. It is in-mold flooded with self-healing polyurethane in a single-shot process integrating radome heating.
Bingen, Germany-based Oerlikon Balzers Coatings Germany GmbH plasma vapor deposition (PVD) equipment creates radar-transparent diamond-shape metallic effects. The "intelligent surface" panel houses camera technology, radar functions, driver assistance sensor technology and heating elements.