Technical Community Presents Next-Generation Interiors at Automotive Cockpit and Interior Systems Events Organized by The ITB Group

The ITB Group, a leader in technical automotive consulting and conferences, hosted its 2011 series of automotive interior seminars with two back-to-back events in Shanghai and Detroit, two cities that are crucial knowledge hubs in the international automotive industry today.

Learning sessions at the conferences focused on today’s needs in the automotive interior, including consumer desires, instrument panel skin technologies, efforts toward mass reduction and electronification of the center console and displays.

Car companies led the presentations of the current aesthetic and styling directions needed to delight American and Chinese consumers. Chery and SAIC Motor presented ambitious meditations on the role of design and the combined effect of visual, olfactory, tactile, and auditory cues in the cockpit. At the North American conference, Chrysler shared its internal struggles and successes for implementing a sensible interior development process. Craftsmanship was also explored at length by a respected global supplier, Johnson Controls Asia-Pacific.

The surface of the interior, sometimes known in the automotive industry as the skin or coverstock, has been an area of ongoing technical development for many years. The ITB Group is an experienced consultant in this area, and organized a solid program on skin technologies to instruct the audience of automotive company engineers. Presenters included systems expert FRIMO, who explained technologies for in-mold graining of the instrument panel. Mold specialist Weber Manufacturing also showed a technology for fine surface detail, known as nickel vapor deposition.

Materials supplier Arkema discussed decoration of PVC slush instrument panel skins, while Benecke-Kaliko introduced its Benova brand coverstock and Acella Lux laminates. Benecke-Kaliko and PolyOne also sponsored the events. Tier One cockpit supplier Faurecia showed a range of adventurous surface and decoration solutions that can be used in equally adventurous Chinese interiors, a story that is still being played out. Recticel offered its continued expertise in spray skin technologies that can also provide mass reduction, a need that was also addressed in machinery expert Krauss Maffei’s presentation.

Another notable topic at the conference event was the continued electronification of the interior, with needs for functional decorative surfaces and touch displays that most effectively serve the driver. Bayer Material Science instructed the audience on film insert molding to create center stack surfaces with capacitive switches and formable hard coats to improve scratch performance, a need that is familiar to every iPhone owner.

Automotive Center Stack supplier Preh noted the many competing HMI technologies in the interior, and put forth an elegant interior concept that integrates a center console controller with a smartphone-esque touchpad. Leggett and Platt surveyed the state of wireless charging for smartphones, a technology that is now gaining traction at the OEMs. Touch display viewability was also addressed, with Visteon (at the USA event) and PATAC (at the China event) discussing design and packaging requirements to mitigate reflection.

Several companies presented at both the U.S. and China events, underlining the continual need to connect with engineering communities in both regions.

The strength of the ITB Conference has always been to push industry cross-communication in an engaging format, providing a productive business environment for OEM, Tier Level suppliers, and materials providers.

About The ITB Group
The ITB Group, Ltd. is an international automotive consulting firm headquartered in Novi, Michigan, USA. It provides technical and business advice to OEMs, component and material suppliers in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company is a leading expert in automotive interiors, and has considerable knowledge in materials, design and the business structure of that market.

The ITB Group organizes session-based conferences, which are a forum for OEMs and suppliers to present new technologies, exhibit new products, and network on a personal level. The North American event, now in its eleventh year, has become a highly respected information exchange for participants in the global interiors business.

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