Under the microscope: designo decor with "flowing lines" and "light lines" High-tech meets craftsmanship

Nov 21, 2019
Stuttgart/Guangzhou

The pinstripe motif is a striking Mercedes-Maybach feature that can be found in numerous places, such as the radiator grille, running boards, wheel design or the air conditioning vents. This pattern has also inspired two trim designs. As a traditional material, wood is processed and finished to the usual standard of craftsmanship for these parts. However, presenting the guiding pinstripe theme is only possible using high-tech processes.

In the optional equipment "designo high-gloss black flowing lines piano lacquer", extremely fine, light "flowing lines" reminiscent of marquetry pass across the trim element, taking on its form and emphasising its contours. They describe an elegant flourish and draw apart or come together to heighten the harmonious overall effect. These lines are created by skilled craftsmanship and precise digital technology.

The carefully selected wood veneer has been aged for at least ten years, and a great deal of craftsmanship goes into cutting, reinforcing and stabilising it before it is sanded particularly thinly to take shape. It is then mounted on a carrier which gives it shape, and dyed black. The actual application of the "flowing lines" now follows. A specially developed CNC[1] milling cutter is used to define the fine lines in the layer of veneer, only a few tenths of a millimetre wide. These extremely precisely milled striations are also only just under one millimetre in depth. In the process the veneer layer is completely cut through, exposing the light carrier material. The difficulty of this operation is that the veneer can tear. To prevent this, the direction of milling must for example be adapted to the course of the wood fibres.

After milling, all of the milling dust must be removed from the components, right down into the fine striations. Microscopic checks are performed to ensure that the lines are cleanly milled and that all residue has been removed. The tiniest of dirt particles would make the part unusable. Only if it gets this far unblemished does it receive a full coating by machine.

The fine line pattern for the optional "designo high-gloss brown light lines lime wood" is produced in an altogether different way. In the first stage of the process, several layers of wood veneer are glued together to form a block. Every seventh layer is made of polycarbonate rather than wood. 0.6 mm fine slices are cut from the resulting layer-glued block perpendicular to the surface of the veneers and then sanded smooth. They form the veneer of the trim elements and are stained in a dark shade. The stain is then wiped away again so that the polycarbonate strips stand out as "light lines". In contrast to the "flowing lines" of the piano lacquer and magnolia trim, these lines run dead straight and parallel. When cutting and applying the veneers onto the moulded parts, meticulous attention must therefore be paid to their alignment. These veneers are then fully coated with clearcoat.

The finish, involving sanding and polishing, is then the same for both trim variants. Most of the work is done by hand, accompanied by frequent, careful checks. It takes a great deal of experience, finesse and a good eye to achieve an elegant surface. The walnut veneer receives a deep shine to which the "light lines" lend a unique structure. In the finely chiselled line pattern of the "flowing lines", it seems as though the light lines are inserted into the dark, high-gloss black surface of the piano lacquer or the magnolia veneer.

[1] CNC = Computerized Numerical Control. With the help of their sophisticated control technology, these machine tools can even produce workpieces with complex forms highly precisely in an automatic process.

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