Issue: May 2006


Plastics Play a Growing Role in the Look and Feel of Auto Interiors



by Alan Bodi, Steve Schneider, Daryl Way, Scott Weber

With the increasingly innovative use of plastics, automotive interior designers are providing a growing variety of choices that appeal to the diverse wants and needs of today’s customers. The color, appearance, cost effectiveness, and other properties of plastics are responsible for their continuing popularity as the material of choice for manufacturers and consumers.

The latest trends in the use of plastics as a key element in automotive interior design reflect the changing styles and attitudes of today’s car-buying public. Different age and income groups, for example, tend to focus on different things when they purchase a car, and plastic materials are helping car makers to satisfy all their desires through versatility and cost efficiency.

Following is an overview of the most significant industry trends related to the use of plastics in auto interiors, as manufacturers and suppliers strive to reduce costs, improve quality, and enhance attractiveness.

Color
Over the past four to five years, customers and manufacturers have focused mostly on neutral colors for interiors, and this trend is not expected to change any time soon. Dark and rich colors are still being used, but to a lesser extent. Meanwhile, special additives are allowing greater use of colored plastics by reducing weight and improving processability.

One interesting development is that designers increasingly are making use of complementary colors, rather than identical colors, for adjacent parts within the vehicle, to avoid the problems that arise when trying to match the colors exactly. Achieving a precise color match for different resins is a very difficult task, and consumers frequently notice if a color is off by even a slight degree.

Credits: Alan Bodi, Market Development Specialist – OEM Specifiers; Steve Schneider, Automotive Commercial Manager; Daryl Way, Sales/Market Development Specialist; Scott Weber, Market Development - Automotive


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