Consumer requirements for their vehicles’ interior never seem to stop. It was not that long ago that gear shifts, mechanical displays and rough plastic prevailed in interior car design. Nowadays, high-end materials, touch screens and digital instruments are a “must have“. High-tech glass and fiber optics are creating a distinct ambience and are opening the door to new possibilities for automotive designers.
In the near future computers will define a car’s cockpit. A minimized interior design is already being customized during production. Many control functions and display features are digital. Creating an oasis of comfort and security.
Car manufacturers find themselves faced with the challenge of how to satisfy all of the needs for innovation. All while keeping the overall weight of the vehicle as low as possible to keep electric cars running longer and to reduce exhaust emission of a combustion engine.
Enabling unknown moods
Because glass is an inorganic, ageless substance, it is ideally suited for the pioneering technology of car interiors. In contrast to many other materials, glass has numerous benefits – it offers both beauty and strength. Glass’ optical properties make it extremely scratch-resistant, allowing touch screens to be integrated under trim components even the most elongated trim.
To date, glass has been sparingly utilized in interior car design. Reasons being that glass must be extremely strong so that it does not lead to further injuries when accidents happen. Secondly, a high degree of malleability is essential in order to fit futuristic, curved designs. Lastly, the need to be as lightweight as possible, which, when considering glass, is not an obvious assumption.
SCHOTT’s ultra-thin glass is most popularly used in mobile device applications, such as protective glass for fingerprint sensors and camera lenses. Both borosilicate glass as well as aluminosilicate glass, which have been chemically toughened, are being utilized. The integration of displays and touch screens begs the question: will our car’s cockpit soon be more of an entertainment hub instead of a purely functional driver’s seat?
When it comes to the automotive industry, ultra-thin glass in thicknesses of 250 micrometers or below is a particularly interesting material. At this thickness, it is lightweight but extremely durable. Convex and concave geometries are also possible as well as curved two-dimensional forms.
How ultra-thin glass makes its way into your vehicle:
„In the future, car interiors will be full of screens – imagine an amplified smartphone. Car manufacturers will look to chemical and material suppliers on how to implement these upcoming innovations into their interior designs.“
– Professor Dr. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany)