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Rietheim-Weilheim, Germany, December 2021 – Eating, sleeping or reading: The more common autonomous driving becomes in the future, the more the vehicle interior will transform into a comfortable living space. Marquardt is helping to shape this trend and has opened a Technology Factory for this purpose at its headquarters. Using state-of-the-art equipment and processes, the mechatronics specialist tests and qualifies new materials and manufacturing technologies at the facility, prior to introducing the innovations into its global production network. The products include highly integrated user interfaces and trim parts that can also be backed with various functions using flexible printing processes.
"As a development partner and series supplier to leading brands, we have already been working on upgrading vehicle interiors for years. With the Marquardt Technology Factory, we are further expanding our development and production expertise and offering our customers even more innovative solutions from a single source," says Chief Operating Officer Jochen Becker.
From optical bonding and screen printing to in-mold labeling
Among the technologies Marquardt uses for a wide variety of customer requirements is optical bonding, which is used, for example, to connect vehicle displays with touch sensors and a glass or plastic panel to form a single unit. "For the user, this creates a closed, very high-quality and convenient user interface. At the same time, vehicle manufacturers benefit from the flat and space-saving design," explains Dr. Gunther Storz, Head of Marquardt Technology Factory.
Combining decorative parts with functions
Marquardt also applies complex screen-printing processes, which can be used to apply decorative prints to various materials and at the same time add functions. There is a wide range of applications: the printing of functional structures includes, for example, sensor fields, actuators for surface heating systems, optical display sensors, or conductor tracks for mounting components.
Another technology is in-mold labeling. In this process, a formed film is shaped to a new component using plastic, which requires less installation space and can reduce weight. "We also use this process to produce design decors with premium looks and surface structures and back them with a wide variety of functions, depending on customer requirements. The principle here is 'function on demand'. That means that only at the request of the user or in the event of danger, for example, does a control panel or signal appear on the closed surface in the vehicle," says Dr. Gunther Storz.
Integration of new materials: design meets sustainability
Another competence of the Marquardt Technology Factory is the integration of new materials in operating and decorative surfaces. With natural fiber materials, real wood, stone or vegan leather, there are virtually no limits to the design freedom in the vehicle interior of the future. "We also think about the sustainability principle here and rely on durable, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving manufactured and renewable materials," emphasizes Dr. Gunther Storz.