Covestro presents visionary steering wheel cover prototype
High-quality surfaces in automotive interiors
DirectCoating technology with good prospects in the automotive industry • in-process coating is more efficient and offers greater freedom
The DirectCoating process produces coated, injection-molded parts for the automotive interior in just one step. This creates a polyurethane coated component with outstanding properties that requires virtually no post-processing.
Consumers appreciate a personalized vehicle interior with a premium feel and
appealing design. The automotive industry and its suppliers are therefore
focused on design freedom, but also want to reduce the energy consumption,
logistics effort and costs associated with the production of the components.
The solution for all these desires is DirectCoating. This technology enables the
efficient production of coated components with tremendous design freedom in
regard to appearance and haptics.
Today plastics dominate the automotive interior. Components are typically
injection-molded from a thermoplastic and then, in a second step, coated on
a coating line at a different location to create the desired appearance and
One mold for color, surface and feel
The DirectCoating process produces a component in just one step. After
production in the injection mold, the plastic substrate is then transferred to a
second, minimally larger cavity, into which the coating system is injected via a
reaction injection molding (RIM) mixing head. This creates a polyurethane
(PU)-coated component with outstanding properties that requires virtually no
“Compared with the conventional process, the integrated process offers
substantial savings potential with respect to logistics effort, energy consumption
and space requirements,” said automotive coatings expert Dr. Jan Weikard.
“All you need is an injection molding machine and a RIM system.”
Virtually unlimited design freedom
The component itself can be transparent, translucent or opaque. Its surface
can be coated in various colors, decorated with a matte or high-gloss finish or
protected with scratch-resistant functional coatings. There are also various
haptic and surface structuring options.
This is another advantage the DirectCoating process has over spray coating.
The injected coating can also reproduce contours such as sharp or rounded
edges and raised surfaces because it accurately depicts the mold surface.
Ultrafine grain patterns with a sharp contrast between high-gloss and matte
areas are one possible variant.
Various surfaces on a single component
One example is the prototype of a redesigned steering wheel cover that
Covestro is presenting at the European Coatings Show 2017. This development
demonstrates the wide range of colors, surface structures and tactile properties
that can be reproduced on the same component from a single mold using
DirectCoating. Located in the driver’s direct field of vision, the steering wheel
cover meets the most demanding appearance requirements.
The raw materials for PU layers applied by DirectCoating cannot contain any
solvents, not even water. The process therefore requires low-viscosity raw
materials that display sufficient flow at 50 to 90 degrees Celsius to quickly fill the
cavity. Aliphatic polyisocyanates are particularly well-suited materials, as are
polyester and polyether diols and polyols as well as polycarbonate diols as the
polyol components. Characteristics such as elasticity, weathering resistance,
self-healing and scratch resistance can be defined by the appropriate selection
of raw materials.
Precise coating filling simulation
Mold filling with the polyurethane coating can be computed in advance using a
material data set created by Covestro for Moldflow® simulation software. The
simulation model considers various parameters so that problems such as air
pockets can be prevented. Trials with the model have now reached the stage
where Covestro is offering its customers and their mold makers the project
service of computing the ideal sprue and vent design for the coating component.
Critical to the continued success of the technology are customized materials,
optimum combination of the thermoplastic with the PU raw materials, special
formulation expertise with solvent-free coatings, effective use of simulation and
testing methods, and solid processing know-how. DirectCoating technology then
has good chances of becoming established in the automotive industry.
Visit us at the European Coatings Show 2017 from April 4 to 6 in Nuremberg,
Hall 4A, Booth 4A-528.
With 2016 sales of EUR 11.9 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest
polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of hightech
polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products
used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive,
electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries.
Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the
globe and employs approximately 15,600 people (full-time equivalents) as of the
end of 2016.
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts
made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to
material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of
the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public
reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to
update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.