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Original Press Release
Autoflex Xtraform Continues to Make Inroads in the Automotive Market
Press release date: January 16, 2013
Autoflex Xtraform, the cutting edge Film Insert Moulding (FIM) substrate from MacDermid Autotype, the leading European manufacturer of specialized films and chemistry for advanced printing and electronics applications, is continuing to gain ground on applications in the global automotive sector. Following extensive trials FIAT Group, Italy's largest industry and a leading global manufacturer of cutting edge cars, from the fashionable and acclaimed 500 to powerful Ferraris, has adopted Xtraform in four of its vehicles, ranging from the well known Punto Evo, the nippy Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the fuel efficient Doblo' family MPV and the amazingly customisable Lancia Y (marketed in the UK as Chrysler Ypsilon). Cutting edge design has always been at the very heart of FIAT, producing some of the most desirable and iconic cars around. Designers and Engineers from FIAT wanted to create an interior environment that combined strong aesthetic with advanced design and outstanding material properties, at the same time integrating essential dashboard components. Conventional materials simply couldn't cope with the level of intricacy required by modern styling, and their use in such manner, in the form of separate components, would have been prohibitively expensive too. In the quest for an appropriate solution, technology experts from FIAT were introduced to Autoflex Xtraform. This film substrate is a formable hardcoated polycarbonate, ideal for deep draw forming, yet with all the robustness and chemical resistance of conventional hardcoated films; a feature acquired following UV curing during the FIM process. Xtraform was specifically devised by MacDermid Autotype for the automotive and advanced telecommunication sectors, where a combination of outstanding aesthetic qualities and inherent resistance to wear and tear are paramount. Crucially in all FIM applications, the film not only has to withstand complex and demanding material processing (printing, forming, UV curing, cutting and injection moulding), but subsequently extreme use in day to day situations. For example, this could be sustained exposure to UV light and weatherability. This is because in a vehicle's interior temperature and humidity can vary dramatically not only from season to season, but from within a matter of minutes (e.g. from subfreezing while a car is stationary in winter, up to 20C or more - and almost the reverse in the height of summer). Added to this the film has to retain a pleasing and attractive surface, even after extended usage. Cosmetic strength is something that researchers at MacDermid Autotype are particularly proud to have cracked, especially as Autoflex Xtraform features a desirable high gloss surface. Its robustness is achieved thanks to the unique and proprietary surface treatment applied to the film. In addition to chemical and scuff resistance the advanced coating can even provide an element of self-healing, taking advantage of an ingenious way in which the molecular structure of the hardcoating surface interact with each other. Renato Mozzi, European Sales Manager at MacDermid Autotype explains, "We are particularly proud of the way our range of FIM films has been gaining ground in the automotive sector as this is a research intensive operation with long lead times and where material specifications are crucial. Vehicles can be exported across the globe and are expected to be in regular use for up to a decade or even more, so materials longevity is absolutely vital." He adds "What makes us stand out from the competition is how closely we work with our partners in key industries, providing them with products that are totally focused to the markets they serve." The MacDermid FIM range consists of eight different films, from polycarbonate to polyester and PMMA, providing a viable solution to all advanced manufacturing requirements, wherever a wide variety of intricate components are required to be integrated in a cost effective and durable manner.