Direct Coating Technology for Improved Piano Black Appearance and Scratch Resistance

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-1350

  • 2018-04-03
In recent years, piano black has emerged as a trend for automotive interior and exterior trim due to its high-gloss and deep-color appearance, intended to evoke the luxury of the instrument for which it is named. However, it has been a challenge to find suitable material for the requirements of vehicles and their drivers. The current industry standard is a 3-layer paint coating consisting of a primer, black layer, and protective clear coat. Although this gives a glossy appearance, paint leaves an “orange peel” effect, meaning imperfect smoothness. Another approach is to use high-gloss molded plastic, such as polycarbonate or PMMA, which provide a smooth surface, but are susceptible to scratching, UV degradation, and chemical attack. Because of this, many consumers complain that their piano black trim does not maintain good appearance. The exterior pillars, for example, become easily scratched from spinning brushes in an automatic car wash. In this paper, a new method for achieving piano black appearance is discussed. Using a technique called direct coating, developed by Covestro, components have been produced with a smooth, high-gloss surface, which demonstrate improved scratch resistance and ability to recover from minor scratches. For this development project, the Hyundai Santa Fe C-pillar trim was selected due to the simple geometry and severe exterior requirements. This allowed for optimization of molding conditions and performance comparison to the current production part. This part demonstrated improved quality compared to paint, and passed car wash, chemical, and weather testing. In addition to addressing quality issues, this method offers cost savings by eliminating the traditional painting process, which is expensive due to long cycle time, multi-step processing, and emissions regulations. Furthermore, this technology can be adapted to other substrate materials, different coating colors (including clear and metallic), and varying surface finishes such as matte and textured patterns.
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