In the growing market for consumer electronics, manufacturers are looking for new aesthetic and functional solutions. It’s no longer just about trendy shapes and bright colors: consumers have discovered a preference for velvety-soft products with luxurious matte surfaces. To meet their needs, Covestro worked with paints and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel to develop a new type of waterborne coating system with adjustable haptics and a matt optics effect. It simultaneously meets the high demands on the quality and durability of today’s electronic products. Covestro is also cooperating with other partners along the value chain to quickly apply raw material innovations in end products and support the modernization needs of brands.
“The rollout of the 5G network in particular, will take the industry to a whole new level, but will also lead to higher consumer expectations regarding device performance,” says Dr. Miya Ma, Industrial Marketing and Business Development Manager for 5G Applications in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties segment in the Asia-Pacific region at Covestro. “That's why we are working with partners and customers to develop innovative material solutions to bring trendy products to the market faster.”
One current example is the functional Smart Mirror from the Chinese manufacturer MINE Technologies. The mirror cover is coated with AkzoNobel's waterborne soft-touch coating, which gives it a silky feel and a luxurious matte effect. It is highly resistant to abrasion and scratching and is based on the polyurethane raw materials Bayhydrol® and Bayhydur® from Covestro. The water-based coating is characterized by only low emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contributing to a more sustainable manufacturing process.
The mirror also features compelling new electronic functions. If you swipe its edge, it begins to glow. The brightness can also be adjusted via swiping. The Smart Mirror can also connect to WiFi networks and is capable of recharging wirelessly. The product received an “iF Design Award” and an “International Design Excellence Award (IDEA)” in 2018.
Versatile material solutions
With pilot projects like this, Covestro is positioning itself in the growing consumer electronics devices market. In doing so, the company is supporting customers along the value chains in accordance with principles of CMF design (Color, Material, Finishing). In addition to the variant presented here, silk, velvet, and leather-like product surfaces with various degrees of matte and gloss can also be produced.
The mirror's back panel and light ring are made of Makrolon® polycarbonate from Covestro, which is characterized by its impact strength, heat resistance, flame retardancy and transparency. The company also offers post consumer recycled solutions and polycarbonate material with renewable contents to help consumer electronics customers achieve their sustainability goal. The mirror also includes a bag made by the Shanghai-based company Huafon Microfibre. It employs a microfiber leather solution for this purpose, using the polyurethane raw material Desmodur®.
With 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion, Covestro is among the world’s leading polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. In doing so, Covestro is fully committed to the circular economy. The main industries served are the automotive and transportation industries, construction, furniture and wood processing, as well as electrical, electronics, and household appliances industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. At the end of 2020, Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,500 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).