a body that can change color!

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At CES 2022 in Las Vegas, BMW presented an innovative invention: a car body surface capable of changing color.

With the BMW iX Flow (see slideshow), developed with the company E Ink, the Bavarian manufacturer presents a technology using digitization to adapt thecockpit and the body from one vehicle to different situations and wishes of the driver.

“In the future, digital experiences will not be limited to screens”, Explain Frank weber, development manager at BMW. “There will be more and more fusion between the real and the virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we bring the body of the car to life ”

Color changes are made possible by a body envelope designed to follow the lines of the 100% electric SUV. When stimulated by electrical signals, the electro-phoretic technology brings different color pigments to the surface.

The car as a “means of expression”

E Ink technology opens up new avenues to modify the appearance of the vehicle according to the aesthetic preferences the driver, environmental conditions or even functional requirements.

“It gives the driver the freedom to express outwardly different facets of his personality or even his pleasure of change, and to redefine that every time he sits in his car”, explains Stella Clarke, BMW iX Flow project manager. “Like fashion or social media status, the car then becomes the expression of different moods and circumstances of everyday life. “

A variable color for efficiency

Variable body color can also contribute to well-being inside and at the consumption of the car. To do this, account is taken of the different properties of light and dark colors with regard to the reflection of the sunlight and the absorption of thermal energy that results from it.

A white surface reflects much more sunlight than a black surface. Consequently, the warming of the car and its passenger compartment due to strong sunshine and high outside temperatures can be reduced by modifying the exterior for a light color. In cooler weather, a dark exterior coating will help the vehicle absorb noticeably more heat from the sun.

In either case, the color changes can contribute to reduce the amount of fresh airs and heat required for thermal regulation of the car. This reduces the amount of energy that the electrical system needs and, therefore, the fuel or electricity consumption.

Unlike screens or projectors, the electro-phoretic technology absolutely does not require no energy to keep the state of the selected color constant. Current only flows during the short phase of color change.

Millions of paint capsules in a special film

Electro-phoretic coloring is based on a technology developed by E Ink which is best known for the screens used by reading lights. The surface coating of the BMW iX Flow contains several millions of microcapsules, with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair.

Each contains pigments white, negatively charged, and pigments black, positively charged. Depending on the setting chosen, stimulation by means of an electric field causes pigments to accumulate on the surface of the micro-capsule, giving the car body the desired color.

Obtaining this effect on the bodywork involves the application of numerous ePaper segments. Generative design processes are implemented so that the segments reflect the characteristic curves of the vehicle and the resulting variations in light and shade.

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