Era of Chemistry 4.0: The future of the car interior

The era of Chemistry 4.0, with digitalization and the circular economy as important drivers, offers tons of new possibilities for the automotive industry. The shift toward electric vehicles, shared mobility and connectivity shape the way we build our future: a future in which Stahl envisions the car as a third living space where you can work, meet with others, relax and have fun. More than ever before, the car interior will become the heart of the car and an important element of OEM brand differentiation. Premium soft materials play a vital role: they need to look and feel good, fulfill stringent spec requirements and be environmentally responsible, to name just a few features. This calls for new ways of thinking and producing, starting right from the beginning of the supply chain – a challenge Stahl takes on every day.

As the leading expert in car interior surface materials, Stahl constantly innovates its range of best-in-class solutions in close cooperation with the world’s leading manufacturers and brands. We strive for a more sustainable and cleaner future, with appealing and long-lasting materials. We are taking the necessary steps today already, enabling the automotive interior supply chain to design the materials for tomorrow’s mobility.

The car as a living space
As the time we spend in our car increases, attention to details becomes more important. The color-and-materials concept, for instance, as well as aspects such as improved in-vehicle air quality, are becoming essential purchasing decisions. Optimizing chemicals in the production process is an important step Stahl takes to reduce emissions and to neutralize smells of materials as much as possible.

In terms of the use of leather in cars, Proviera® - Probiotics for Leather™ products replace all chemicals with 100% natural ingredients in the beamhouse. The Stahlite® re-tan process contributes to improved air quality as it requires less chemicals, water and energy. Moreover, Stahlite® even minimizes the weight up to 30%, resulting in notable fuel emissions and therefore fuel cost savings and a cleaner future.

Next to leather, synthetic materials have evolved tremendously over the past 10 years and have become a valuable addition for upgrading vehicles across all classes. Our STAHL EVO range offers alternative coatings and finishes that reduce volatile components and are therefore optimized for odor and emissions.

Beating squeaking and stain annoyances
Did you know that car seat stains and squeaking and rattling car seats are the two major annoyances car owners encounter?* These annoyances are likely to increase with the shift toward using the car as a living and working space. This new usage requires that surface materials last and stay in perfect condition, especially with the current trend we see toward ever-lighter color concepts in car interiors. Our challenge lies in keeping surfaces clean for a significant period of time. To this end, we created Stay Clean. This finishing technology for both leather and synthetic surfaces adds properties to surface materials that hinder the pick-up and migration of stains and dyes into the substrate, so everything remains clean. Think of spilled coffee or even the dye from your jeans. Stay Clean also passes the stick-slip test. In addition, our PolyMatte® coating, a smooth matt-quality finishing technology, reduces squeaking in the car thanks to its flexibility and resistance. Unlike most matting agents, PolyMatte® is long-lasting because it doesn't weaken the coating and stays strong.

More changes to come
As requirements become increasingly stringent, we are investing heavily in the development of new, sustainable technologies. Stahl unceasingly works together with partners to be on top of the game while meeting changing demands. As we always say at Stahl: If it can be imagined, it can be created. 

*J.D. Power, The Vehicle Dependability Study, 2014
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