PLEXIGLAS® creates striking illuminated details in the interiors of the new SEAT Ibiza and SEAT Arona
- SEAT equips the two popular models with colorfully illuminated air vents
- Röhm’s wide range of PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds can be used to create individual ambient lighting in automotive design
- PLEXIGLAS® LED LD special molding compound enables colored edge lighting
Sometimes, it is the small surprising details that make people fall for a car – like a pleasant ambiance created by interior lighting. Spanish car manufacturer SEAT gave its popular Ibiza compact car and Arona compact SUV models a facelift in 2021. The most striking changes to the interior include round, colorfully illuminated air vents with light guides made from a light-scattering PLEXIGLAS® molding compound from Röhm. “We are delighted to see our brand PMMA as part of the premiere of this new ambient illumination,” says Ramon Vilardell, Senior Business Manager at the Molding Compounds business unit in Spain.
“Due to its special optical properties, PLEXIGLAS® is simply the best material for interplay with light.”
Air, light and color
The contours of the air vents light up in different colors depending on the equipment line: deep red or cool white for the Ibiza; red, light green or honey yellow for the Arona. The lighting provides a splash of color and creates a pleasant ambiance when driving at night.
“Both models were due for an interior facelift, and we had the idea of using the air vents as a decorative illuminated element,” explains Carolina Gómez Sánchez, Color Designer in the Color & Trim team of SEAT. “The use of lighting technology adds to the SEAT Arona’s and Ibiza’s interior personality. The driver and passenger side newly designed air vents benefit from surrounding LED lights. It means the cabin space is more in-sync with the customer’s personality. This functional component often looks technical, and we wanted to liven it up with colorful detail. It suits the image of our classic SEAT Ibiza to a tee, as it is a car for people who are young at heart. Many people see their car as much more than just a means of transport. It is a symbol of freedom and a reliable daily companion – one in which they want to feel at home and have fun. This also explains the desire for individuality when it comes to choosing equipment.”
Alongside color, light is particularly well-suited to creating individual design with emotional appeal. It is becoming an increasingly important design factor in vehicle interiors, not just for backlit buttons and switches that need to be visible in the dark, but also for ambient lighting with changing moods, as well as for purely decorative purposes in illuminated trims and contours. Car manufacturers need high-quality light guiding materials, such as PLEXIGLAS® molding compounds.
“The best material for interplay with light”
“We decided early on in the development cycle that we would use PLEXIGLAS® for the contour lighting on the air vents, as its special optical properties make it quite simply the best material when it comes to interplay with light”, says the SEAT designer. She and her team had two main requirements for the material: It had to guide the light in an even intensity throughout the entire component, and scatter the light homogeneously. PLEXIGLAS® LED LD special molding compounds fulfilled both demands.
“We developed these special molding compounds specifically for LED contour lighting,” says Gunther Benz, Product Manager Automotive in the Molding Compounds business unit. “The diffuser particles in the material ensure that the light fed in via the contours is extracted homogeneously across the area of the component.” As this type of illumination also depends on the distance covered by the light, PLEXIGLAS® LED LD is available in four versions, allowing light guides in lengths of up to 96 centimeters.
The light guides on the air vents in the two SEAT models are made from PLEXIGLAS® LED 8N LD12. Structures on the injection molded rings also ensure that the light spreads outwards radiantly. The manufacturer starts out with the clear version of the material and backs it with colored plastic depending on the model and equipment level.
“We are highly satisfied with the result,” emphasizes Gómez Sánchez. “Now that we have successfully brought illuminated air vents to series production, we can continue to work on other creative ideas, such as developing new colors and effects,” says the Color & Trim designer, who can easily imagine using PLEXIGLAS® LED for other parts of the ambient lighting in further SEAT models.
With 3,500 employees and 14 production sites worldwide, Röhm is one of the leading manufacturers in the methacrylate business. The medium-sized company with branches in Germany, China, the USA, Mexico, and South Africa has more than 80 years of experience in methacrylate chemistry and a strong technology platform. Our best-known brands include PLEXIGLAS®, ACRYLITE®, MERACRYL®, DEGALAN®, DEGAROUTE® and CYROLITE®.
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) products from Röhm are sold on the European, Asian, African and Australian continent under the registered trademarks PLEXIGLAS® and PLEXIMID®, in the Americas under the registered trademarks ACRYLITE® and ACRYMID®.