Driving customisation

DirectCoating/DirectSkinning technology aims to meet the requirements of car buyers and manufacturers alike. While consumers prefer a personalised vehicle interior with a premium appearance and an attractive design, the automotive industry is looking to manufacture components efficiently. Interest in this new technology is thus growing steadily, and it is now used in series production.

At the K 2016 plastics trade fair, Covestro will be showcasing the prototype of a new design for a steering wheel cover. This development features a wide range of colours, surface structures and tactile properties that can be reproduced on the same component from a single mould using DirectCoating.

The coated component is produced in a two-component mould using a two-stage process in an injection moulding machine. Having undergone injection moulding in the first cavity, the plastic substrate is then transferred to a second cavity that is one coating layer thickness larger. The solvent-free coating system is injected into this mould via a RIM (reaction injection moulding) mixing head. This creates a polyurethane-coated component with outstanding properties that requires virtually no post-processing.

“Compared with conventional combination of injection moulding and subsequent spray coating, the integrated process offers great potential for reducing logistics effort, energy consumption and space. This and an impressive degree of design freedom is where the significant added value of the process lies,” said Dr. Johannes Scherer, head of Covestro’s DirectCoating/DirectSkinng program.

The component itself can be transparent, translucent or opaque. Its surface can be coated in various colours, decorated with a matte or high-gloss finish or protected with scratch-resistant functional coatings. There are also various tactile and surface structuring options.

Tim Fryer

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