Experts on interior materials imat-uve helps designers to make the right choice

Choosing the right materials for a new automotive interior has never been a more daunting task. Customer expectations are rising, with even mass-market buyers demanding innovative, high-quality cabins. Ongoing advances in materials technology are multiplying the number of options on offer. And at the same time, the industry’s progress towards electrification, autonomy and car sharing is unleashing a host of complex new considerations.

Designers must also balance these developing trends against familiar competing factors. The spectre of unforeseen costs and delays that comes with new materials has a dampening effect, encouraging more conservative choices, particularly when schedules and budgets are tight. Designers are also keenly focused on the emotional impact of their decisions. The look, feel, sound and smell of surfaces can trigger memories and associations with a dramatic influence on perceived value.
 imat-uve offers a range of specialised services and resources that can help designers successfully resolve these multiple challenges. It provides an expert interface between design teams and a wide range of material suppliers – offering a neutral space where the full range of competing solutions can be compared.
 “The key to a perfect harmonisation of all involved departments, through the whole value-added chain, is to provide services from one source that can come into action at any stage of the design and production process,” observes Dr Hans Peter Schlegelmilch, CEO of imat-uve group. “We work closely with designers, OEMs and their suppliers from the first idea to start of production, and even beyond.”

Range of services

Services offered by imat-uve can help designers make the right choices in a variety of ways. The companyʼs in-house experts can draw on many years of experience in testing and developing materials and components, and are highly focused on assessing new materials from both a design standpoint as well as a technical perspective.
 These experts curate physical collections of production-ready materials and surfaces, including the latest innovations, through imat-uveʼs Material Library service.


An imat-uve Material Library

Customers can browse these extensive libraries in showrooms in Germany, China and the US, where original samples can be experienced in the flesh. imat-uve also provides ‘Think Space’ workshops where designers can gain a first-hand understanding of the tactile, visual and aromatic qualities of a wide range of competing materials. The library catalogues a full set of practical information for each sample, including key indicators such as NVH performance, recyclability, durability and health impact. The Material Library covers the full range of automotive surfaces, including plastics, leather, textiles, metal, wood and ceramics, as well as the latest smart materials. The collection is continually expanding as new and innovative products become available.  “The Material Library is the centre where all our departments and different working groups come together to co-operate and to be inspired,” says Schlegelmilch. “The Material Library is also a space where clients can develop their ideas with us, or find the solution for a particular problem.” Samples in the library are also available digitally, in texture-map formats suitable for CAD, virtual reality modelling and photo-realistic rendering.


Digital materials resources

In 2019, imat-uve will take the next stride forward in its mission to help customers make the right material decisions. It will launch a fully digital library, optimised for material exploration, called Brain of Materials. As a dedicated digital platform, Brain of Materials will provide a searchable resource containing detailed 3D scans and texture maps of samples, alongside sustainability, durability and user experience data. This digital service will offer the ability to view chosen materials applied across geometric shapes or sample 3D components, or used within a virtual-reality preview of an automotive cabin.

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Brain of Materials’ virtual reality preview tool

Brain of Materials will complement the hands-on approach offered by the Material Library and Think Space workshops (see below), offering a new way to access the materials expertise offered by imat-uve.

Whether digitally or in person, imat-uve says its goals remain the same: to support automotive manufacturers and suppliers as they create the innovative interiors of the future. “We continue to work diligently wherever design, engineering and production converge, from initial ideas to the finished product, both locally and globally,” says Schlegelmilch.

HQ: Mönchengladbach, Germany

Locations: Germany, China, South Africa, USA,


Helping designers make informed materials choices is central to imat-uve’s work