Find out how FIM functions in a variety of high-end applications and determine whether it’s a fit for your business.
By Neil Bolding
Automotive designers are discovering that film insert molding (FIM) now offers much more than the usual dashboard interfaces. Led by the European market, FIM is enabling designers to achieve striking results all around the vehicle that add value, enhance the brand and, ultimately, boost sales.
Recent advances in the manufacture of specialty films have enabled designers in many industries to be more adventurous and this is having a marked effect on the automotive market. In Europe, automotive decoration using FIM is more than just a case of producing colored plastic shapes, its capability is also being used to create and enhance brand values, too.
In the U.S., a similar progression is taking place; designers are beginning to see that the kind of specialty films supplied is helping them to add value, and we expect that it won’t be long before designers exploit FIM to create automotive branding in the same way as Europe.
So what’s driving this development? FIM technology can now deliver any color, even metallic and mirror effects, with several projects now being developed in white. FIM can produce more than just a high-gloss finish; you can have textures on the foil and even circuit printing, creating the opportunity to put a single, interactive control surface on the dashboard (Figure 1) instead of panels with cutaways to accommodate the switches.
Designers are now extending the use of FIM with parts such as overhead lighting consoles in the roof, illuminated door rails, and even badges. The potential to enhance brand values with FIM is illustrated by Alfa Romeo with its Giulietta model. Here, FIM has been used to great effect on the music console to make not only a highly attractive panel design, but also a strong statement with the brand name appearing in its only non-badge position on vehicle. The design of this elegant, minimalist console, which becomes even more appealing when the backlit setting is activated, gives a desirable premium look and feel.
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