KEBALLOY 3D: Design as individual as the driver
Buying an automobile is a deeply emotional decision. For many automotive customers, the adaptation of design elements to personal taste is becoming increasingly important. From the consumer goods sector, the end consumer is already used to many such features – from cell phone covers to coffee machines. We are talking here about so-called enthusiasm factors, whose emotional impact far exceeds the actual benefit, but which leave the customer with a good feeling, make the purchase decision considerably easier and justify it in retrospect. Rinspeed has been exploiting this psychological effect for many years with its unusual automotive concepts. However, many car manufacturers do not yet exploit the possibilities offered by individual design. So when buying a car, apart from the color of the paint, there is usually only a choice between a few design options. Changing the appearance of the car later often involves a great deal of effort. One of the main reasons for this limited freedom of choice is the associated cost of individualizing design elements in the fully automated manufacturing processes of the automotive industry.
The courage to innovate
One of the major challenges facing the automotive industry in the 21st century is the realization of an ever-increasing variety of variants. In addition to the various drive concepts and body variants, the individualization of design in the interior and exterior is also playing an increasingly important role. In some areas, the industry has already accepted the challenges of variant diversity: Developers are working with great commitment on the implementation of “Industry 4.0” technologies. When it comes to design elements, however, automotive groups and their suppliers are still reluctant to embrace variant diversity. One reason for this is the fear that individualization of design elements is associated with high costs. In this respect, BARLOG sees itself as a pioneer in the industry with its customized and innovative plastic solutions for its customers. In its products, the family-owned company from Overath combines individualized design wishes and a high degree of utilization with the lowest possible costs.
Individuality through plastics with 3D technology
This applies in particular to the KEBALLOY 3D technology from BARLOG for the realization of individual effect paintwork with a 3D effect, which can also be found on the new model from Rinspeed: The self-driving concept car “Ʃtos”. The technology offers completely new possibilities for individualization in large-scale production. Networked manufacturing technology makes it possible to create individual designs from a quantity of just one product – without any additional effort in terms of tooling and setup costs or logistics costs. The component – for example, a customized trim strip in the interior or a front panel made of plastic as in the “Ʃtos” – is produced cost-effectively in large quantities using an injection molding process with a technical thermoplastic from the KEBALLOY 3D range. The material contains special fillers that make it possible to store information in the surface through magnetism – quite similar in basic principle to an old compact or audio cassette. In an intermediate process, the desired design is magnetically imprinted into the surface. With networked and automated production technology, each part can be equipped with an individual design. Up to this step, the design is still invisibly stored magnetically in the surface. Finally, the components are painted with a special metallic lacquer, which brings the design to life and makes it visible. This is done by the metallic particles, which orient themselves to the magnetic field in the surface of the component and give the design a three-dimensional depth effect. Finally, the paint is given a top coat to finalize the individually designed component.
Competitive advantage thanks to individual enthusiasm factors
Cost analysts from German automotive manufacturers have confirmed that components with KEBALLOY 3D effect coatings from BARLOG provide a clear advantage in a cost-benefit comparison in competition with currently common, film-backed design elements due to their enthusiasm factors. With KEBALLOY 3D technology, therefore, not only is the individualization of large-scale production possible, but at the same time a real competitive advantage with a unique selling point over the competition. KEBALLOY 3D technology is used on the hybrid sports car “Ʃtos” in the form of a plastic front panel. This gives the already extraordinary design of the concept car an additional individual touch – a real one-off. At the CES Las Vegas 2016, the general public can for the first time get an impression of the “Ʃtos” and thus also examine the fascinating effect of the three-dimensional effect of KEBALLOY 3D.