• Optical Products

New anti-reflection film technology, creating a luxurious “piano black” automotive interior

The challenge of creating a beautiful “piano black” appearance for automotive displays

In recent years, drivers have looking for stylish vehicle interiors and excellent exterior designs. In particular, luxury designs and a deep, glossy, “piano black” interiors are preferred in Europe and the U.S.

One of the current challenges is to achieve a seamless visual integration between vehicle display components, such as the navigation system and audio panel, with the surrounding “piano black” interior.

The following example showcases the high demand for “piano black” displays among automotive OEMs in Europe and the United States.

A few years ago, Dexerials’ optical engineer in the Automotive Solution Division visited a foreign automotive interior manufacturer. Their dashboards and control panels were all designed in glossy black, just like a high-end piano. However, many of these displays used in combination with the dashboard produced a whitish or brownish appearance when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, Dexerial was asked to develop a film applied onto automotive displays that would match the black color tone of the interior using Dexerials’ technology.

Anti-reflection film that creates a sense of luxury

Based on the anti-reflection technology used in high-end PC monitors and tablet displays, Dexerials pursued the research and development of an anti-reflection film to create a luxurious black color appearance by suppressing external light reflection.

In order to prevent reflections, it is first necessary to accurately calculate how external light is reflected to reach the human eye. In automobiles, the display is viewed from an oblique angle, such as from the driver’s or passenger’s seat, unlike PC monitors viewed from the front. Therefore, it was necessary to design the structure of the anti-reflection layer based on the optical design considering the optimum viewing angle.

When a spoon is placed in a glass of water, the spoon appears to bend at the surface of the water. This is caused by the different refractive indices of air and water. Anti-reflection films apply this principle by stacking layers of nano-level thicknesses with different refractive indices. The reflected light at the internal boundary cancels out the surface-reflected light by “destructive interference” and reduces the reflected light that reaches the human eye.

One of the challenges we faced during the product development was that we could not achieve the ‘beautiful glossy black’ color using the same concept as for anti-reflection film for PC monitors application. In a car, passengers rarely look at the displays from the front. And when we drive a car, the external light comes in from all angles. Varying the angle of incidence of light slightly changes the distance the light travels through even a few nanometers of the film. This difference changes the anti-reflection effect, and the amount and color of the reflected light also changes. The human eye cannot miss this change. It is necessary to create an optimal structure to achieve the “glossy piano black”.

Based on these requirements, Dexerials has developed and commercialized a new anti-reflection film for automotive displays. This new type of film provides for a “piano black” appearance even when viewed from the angle of the driver’s or passenger’s seat.

With a reflectance of approximately 0.3%, the AR Series is highly regarded.

The result of these technological innovations, the Dexerials AR Series offers a glossy “piano black” appearance with a low reflectance of approximately 0.3%. It maintains visibility and suppresses color tone changes caused by reflected light within ±40 degrees to the display. In addition, the glossy “piano black” color can be maintained even when the display is off to match, the car’s piano black interior. 

Dexerials announced the AR100-T0810, a brand new anti-reflective film that achieves a “piano black” appearance for in-vehicle displays, at the “SID Vehicle Displays 2018,” a symposium for the automotive display industry, in Michigan (US). 

Dexerials’s received a great response from automobile and automobile parts manufacturers who attended to our presentation, and we are still receiving many inquiries from them. In particular, luxury car manufacturers  seem to be very interested in this technology.

The AR100-T0810 film also won the Display Component of the Year Award in May 2019 at the SID Display Week organized by the Society of Information Display (SID). The SID is a professional forum specializing in the display industry and has more than 6,000 members worldwide. Receiving the award from SID is a testament to the high level of innovation of this technology.

In display products, the black appearance is very important. The luxurious models of smartphones are designed to look seamlessly integrated into the display surface and the surrounding plastic frame. At Dexerials, we would like to apply this newly developed anti-reflection film technology to various fields where beautiful high-definition displays are required, such as automobile interiors. 

Dexerials’ AR series of anti-reflective films are already being considered for use by many automobile manufacturers. Dexerials is looking forward to expanding the application of new anti-reflection film in the future. 

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