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Engineers looking at bright chrome chromium grill
Finger touching car interior hardcoated display

Smart surfaces in automotive interiors; what does the future hold?

The evolution of mobile phone design – moving away from buttons in favor of sleek smart screens with touch screen functionality – is making its way into automotive interior design, with smart surface embedded displays becoming an integral part of modern-day cars. Essentially, this means that display screens replace dials, and capacitive/touch control replace toggle switches.  

For this reason, the use of hardcoated films for interior applications is growing.

A benefit of hardcoated films for interior display screens is to reduce weight whilst maintaining the high quality of the multitasking interfaces. Varying gloss levels enable use of these surfaces at higher (brighter) and lower (darker) locations in the car interior. Additionally, capacitive touch surfaces (manufactured with hardcoated films) reduce complexity and therefore weight.

To find out more about how our hardcoated plastics can help with your design, click here.

Environmental compliance, the end of chromium plating, right?

car interior Focus on door handle

As a design engineer, you already understand the benefits of chromium plated plastics. You know that car owners desire that quality and metallic feel that only plated plastic delivers. You also understand that environmental directives are challenging applicators to be REACh compliant and use less resources such as water.

Now you are designing the next generation vehicles and deciding on coatings for interior and exterior trim. You want to be sure that the applicator base can both meet the technical coating requirements while meeting those local environmental directives

At MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions we also understand this. Its why we introduced our hexavalent chromium-free evolve etching process for plastics and TRILYTE trivalent chromium plating technology. Both deliver performance to meet automotive requirements, even for exterior trim, while ensuring applicators can meet directives such as REACh.

For more information on our environmentally compliant decorative coatings, click here.


We understand the importance of plastic substrates for reducing vehicle weight, its why our market leading hardcoat films and decorative coatings are already extensively used in automotive applications 

Demonstration of decorative chromium plating finishes

With the focus on design flexibility, decorative plated plastics (POP) enable style and functionality in exterior and interior applications

POP plating solutions are applied to plastics and light metals (aluminum) to full fill specific automotive requirements. From Interior body trim, frames, door handles and exterior mirror cases, front grills, and emblems we partner with you to deliver the industry’s most stylish and functional finishes.

Plating of lighterweight plastics

Many plastic materials are being made even lighter using glass bubble or other technology, additionally, plastics such as Polyvinylchloride (PVC) and Polyurethane (PUR) are more often used due to the increasing use of electronics applications.

Some of the plastics are more challenging to plate, especially when decorative bright appearances are desired. Apart from Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene/Polycarbonate (ABS/PC) and Polyacrylate (PA) also Polypropylene (PP) is being looked more frequently for reducing weight. Link to general automotive presentation portfolio

Composite plastics

Composites are a combination of polymers and a reinforcing material offering high strength-to-weight ratio. The performance is mostly driven by the type, orientation, and content of the reinforcement (glass/carbon fiber). These composites require special sequences to allow plating. Decorative uniform satin finishes are very popular on these substrates. 

Chromium plating

Within the field of automotive decorative coatings, there is a trend from plastic to light metals such as aluminum, plated with copper, nickel, chromium for decorative purposes, and high corrosion performance. 

MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions lightweighting solutions, for more efficient cars.