BMW brings car paint to life with electronic ink: a different color or pattern at any time | Car

VIDEOBMW wants to bring the paint color of the cars to life by making it computer-controlled. The company has today unveiled a prototype where possible. With the new technology, motorists will be able to give their car a different paint color at any time.


Nick Schenk


Latest update:
22-01-05, 21:20

Not only does it become possible to change color super fast, the paint can also move to show other patterns or even animations. As if a draftsman walks across the car from the front and back and paints happily.

The secret behind the astonishing innovation lies in the technology known from e-readers. These electronic books, designed as tablets, use digital ink and that ink also forms the basis of the technology developed by BMW. The engineers have succeeded in combining the principle of car paint with electronics. The paint moves automatically, which the driver can program in a menu, or it starts moving after you just touch it with your finger.

BMW iX with electronic ink. © BMW

The idea came from a two-wheeled car

The creators came up with the idea of ​​the living paint after previously working on a prototype of an electric two-wheeled engine from BMW that can function as both an e-bike and a motorcycle. To make the two-wheeler recognizable as a bicycle or motorcycle, this prototype was equipped with an electronic number plate. When the function changed, the license plate was changed.

“This has inspired us to investigate whether we could also realize this kind of change in car paint,” Stella Clarke, the leader of the ‘BMW iX Flow and E Ink’ project, told this site. With the use of laser technology, a kind of wafer-thin, maximally flexible screen has been developed, which replaces the traditional car paint. The electronic ink is applied, so to speak, to the car as a coating. ” The technology makes grateful use of so-called electrophoresis: particles of color pigment move under the influence of an electric field.

BMW iX Flow with electronic ink.
BMW iX Flow with electronic ink. © BMW

A prototype of such a car has already been made: the BMW iX Flow. Its colors can change constantly. “Ideal for customizing the car to your personal taste,” says Stella Clarke. “And even though the prototype still works with shades of gray, all colors are actually possible.”

Diameter not larger than a human hair

The electronic ink on the car’s body consists of millions of microcapsules, with a diameter not greater than the thickness of a human hair. Each microcapsule contains negatively charged white pigment parts and positively charged black pigment parts. An electric field causes the white or black pigment particles to accumulate on the surface of the microcapsule.

Clarke stresses that the consumer does not have to worry about the electronic paint becoming outrageously expensive: “Really, the extra price will be fine.” According to her, do not be afraid of extra expensive damage repair. ,, I admit: the electronics make the paint even more vulnerable than regular paint. But if the paint is damaged, you only see a scratch. However, it is annoying if the electrodes in the paint are cut through the scratch. Then the paint in that place will not be able to change. “

Electronic inks also help reduce power consumption

BMW wants motorists to use this technology to enhance their emotions and the personal appearance of their car in the years to come. Just like with fashionable clothes. They can even adjust the paint color to suit their mood (e.g. happy, sad or sporty).

By making smart use of light and dark colors during the day, the electronic paint can also be functional. For example, it is about reflecting or absorbing sunlight so that it gets warmer or cooler in the car.

BMW itself believes that the new technology can contribute to the car’s energy consumption. E Ink technology is extremely economical when it comes to power consumption. While other cars use energy-consuming screens or projectors (eg for the head-up display), power is only needed for a short time when changing color or pattern. BMW can not yet say when the first electronic paint car will hit the market.

BMW iX Flow with electronic ink.
BMW iX Flow with electronic ink. © BMW



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