Designs You Can Touch Tactile surfaces are on the up for automotive interiors

Looks alone are no longer sufficient; touch is now the 'in thing' for automotive interior design. As the surface finishing specialist Kurz reports, the demand for tactile, structured surfaces on interior components is increasing. In the past, high-gloss surfaces with a woodgrain or metallic look have generally been favored. Now auto manufacturers have discovered tactile surfaces, usually in conjunction with metallic designs, as a further interior design option. A sporty rugged look, created by means of tactile surfaces, is especially desired for off-road and SUV vehicles as well as trucks. In the highly competitive auto market, more and more attention is being focused on the vehicle interior. The possibilities for visually differentiating oneself from the competition appear to have been pretty much exhausted, however. Tactile surfaces, on the other hand, still offer a great deal of scope for creating unique designs.

To effectively service this market, Kurz has developed a patented surface finish. Kurz offers surface coatings with an arbitrary full-surface or single-image structure which can be combined with any of the available visual designs, whether it be woodgrain, metallic or colored. Thanks to the achievable structure depths of around 20 μm, these surface structures are not only visually apparent but also noticeably tangible. Processors can create these tactile surfaces using the Inmold Decoration (IMD) process, thereby avoiding the more complicated Insert Molding process. The structures are incorporated into the IMD foil itself, so expensive mold making technologies are not required, and a large variety of surfaces can be produced using one and the same IMD mold.

This process therefore offers processors a flexible and cost-effective means of production, as well as opening up new design possibilities for designers. It also gives auto manufacturers the ability to add further popular and exclusive interior trim variants to their product range. Several manufacturers are already utilizing this option and implementing the new surface finish in the series production of various models. The tactile designs will be on display at K2010 at the Kurz booth A19 in Hall 5.