Show Review 2017

Automotive Interiors Expo 2017 proves to be a resounding success

The 2017 edition of Automotive Interiors Expo was the largest and most popular to date, with more than 130 exhibitors in attendance and over 2,000 attendees travelling to the Stuttgart Messe to discover the very latest in vehicle interior concepts, technologies, designs, materials, components and systems.

Highlights of Day 3 at the show included a bustling booth for Sekisui Alveo, as the company took the opportunity to demonstrate its range of foam products to visitors. And the way in which the company opted to display its products was very considered, revealed business unit manager for transportation, Thomas Ross.

“We are a foam manufacturer. The product we make comes in large rolls, and it looks like nothing, to be honest. So what we’ve been displaying here is what our customers can make out of our foam. The foam itself isn’t very sexy – it’s an industrial product – but to make people understand what the purpose is, this is a great chance to show the possibilities of what customers can do.

“We have foams that provide soft touch and a nice feel for car parts such as armrests, door inserts, door rolls, and that can sometimes include the whole part,” Ross continued. “The soft-touch foam underneath the foil is between 1.5 and 3mm thick, and that is what we do. We sell it to the foil manufacturers, they sell it to the Tier 1 supplier, and they make the door panel.”

Elsewhere in the halls, Mayser’s booth was one of the most varied at the expo, with a huge range of different technologies. Walter Scharf, head of the foam and moulding business unit, talked through some of the different products that the company had brought to Automotive Interiors Expo 2017.

“One of the things we are demonstrating here is a seatbelt reminder sensor, which is implemented on the B surface of the seat. There’s no influence on the outside of the seat; usually there’s a form, or a foil, but with ours this is not the case. It’s lightweight, small and robust. We’re using it for Skoda and in the Bentley Continental GT. The sensor is also retrofittable, and is very easy to replace.”

Also on display were examples of the company’s advanced material selection. “The focus of our business in the foam unit is compressing,” Scharf continued. “We buy slabs of foam and we compress them. We increase density, we control thickness, air permeability, tensile strength – all the physical properties. In the automotive business, one of the key areas is the steering wheel, for which we produce carrier materials for wheel heating systems. We produce this compressed foam in different grades – densities such as 150 or 200, and thickness starting from 0.5-3mm. Then we supply materials for noise control – for interior applications this can mean for electric motors. We also produce embossed polyurethane foam for vehicle equipment; these can be used in haptic response systems. We make embossing for seat covers, though this is a little more niche. Another main business that we are involved in is customizing of laminating foam, for example in door panels.”

For IHI Hauzer Techno Coating, Automotive Interiors Expo 2017 offered a chance to discuss the new Cromatipic process – a significant development for the company, which will also be opening a brand-new facility – a competence center – in Barcelona at the end of June.

“This is a patent for our company, a brand-new development. It is an application to replace traditional electroplating,” explained product manager Mariona Silvente. Electroplating, Hauzer believes, will be increasingly phased out due to the health hazards and polluting nature of chromium 6, leaving a market opportunity for an alternative process. “It uses just two layers: one is the primer, the application of one painting lacquer; and then a PVD coating,” Silvente continued. “And all the equipment is produced by Hauzer.”

Exhibitors at Automotive Interiors Expo 2017 enjoyed a successful show, and many praised the quality of the visitors in attendance.

“The designers and the OEMs come here, and that makes it a great show for us to attend,” said Klaus Blaschke, CEO of Embossed Solutions. “At other events, these people don’t come. Here the mix of visitors is ideal for us. They are looking for new ideas, and we can offer them.”

“There are not many exhibitions for interiors, and we have seen this exhibition start small but grow. We have visited in the past, but we made the decision to come back as an exhibitor because of the very good logistics at the location, and the extremely good visitors,” agreed Katrin Torkler, sales department director at Tenowo. “It’s made it possible to make high-quality contacts with the right people. It simply made sense for us to come here.”

“The show has been great for meeting new customers, but also for connecting with our existing client base,” added Texno’s Barbara Paccioretti.

“We’re very happy,” said Joerg Hilske of Reell Precision. “We’ve made some good contacts, and some really great contacts that we hope will lead to something, moving forward. This expo allows us to show individual products but also the applications of those products.”

“We’ve been keen to connect with all the OEM people that are here, as well as Tier 1s – it’s good to get some face time with these people,” said Andy Bone, sales director at Formaplex. “The show is bigger than last year, and has a very high quality of visitors once again.”

Much like the exhibitors, visitors to the Stuttgart Messe over the three days were impressed with this year’s expo.

“First of all, I like to visit the suppliers that I already have – saying hello to them and getting some time face to face, especially those who are not located close by,” explained Maxim Jussim, a commodities buyer from Germany. “This is a good place to meet up with a lot of different people. Of course I am also interested in meeting potential new partners – I’m not discovering them for the first time, because I have already done some research into who will be here. But as a first contact, it’s excellent.”

“We visited last year, so when we received the newsletter for this year’s show, we were interested to come and learn about new possibilities,” said Christoph Zelger, a sales representative for Spac SpA. “We had a number of meetings that were excellent, and now we are taking advantage of the opportunity to look around and learn what else is in the market right now – all of which could lead to possible business. It’s been a great day.”

Evgeniy Krasilnikov and Daniel Coros, both buyers for Toyota Boshoku, were similarly enthused by the range of companies and expertise on display. “We are from Toyota Boshoku Europe, so we are suppliers of metal interior parts,” explained Krasilnikov. “This exhibition is a good, focused place to come to meet people in the industry.”

“There are many new suppliers here for us, and it’s an interesting opportunity to get in contact with all kinds of different suppliers and commodities,” agreed Coros. “I think it has great potential and we will be able to find some good people, and good business partners.”

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