German family company EM.tec design brings innovation and movement to the world of product surfaces. It has a range of high-end clients such as BMW, Hyundai, large sporting goods manufacturers, Leica and the luxury baggage manufacturer Degeler. They all receive the know-how from the material professionals at EM.tec, which is based at Bingen on the Rhine.

Materials make a design perfect – whether it is automotive interiors, fashion, interior design or packaging. EM.tec design offers innovation when it comes to surface finishing with its use of BASF’s valure technology, a unique process for the finishing of materials. Every kind of textiles, leather, plastic, paper and other materials get an individual look with valure. EM.tec is the exclusive European licensee of valure technology and the design team in Bingen can open new doors for optics, haptics and functions.

"From the beginning, we were fascinated by this innovation and we developed exciting ideas for its use in a wide range of industries," says Manuel Einhaus, managing director of EM.tec design.

Trends and innovation

Valure brings new depth and effects to a wide range of product surfaces. A firework of colours and patterns puts products in a new light, and allows tailor-made solutions that also enhance and complement function. There are virtually no limits to the design, from fantasy patterns to leather grains and technical structures. Whether clients require finishes that offer a more robust feel or a soft grip, the innovative production process allows the greatest possible creativity in product development.

Heidrun Goth, sales and marketing director for valure at EM.tec design, is also an international trend scout. She knows from years of experience that many products not only have to look good but also feel good. "I go shopping with my hands," she says. "Then I get a feeling for what kind of leather will be suitable for an armchair, which fabric is suitable for a wall covering."

From the beginning, we were fascinated by this innovation and we developed exciting ideas for its use in a wide range of industries.

Luxury car designs

The automotive industry rolls with breathtaking speed through profound changes: automated driving, assistance systems, and new information and entertainment technologies. These innovations present challenges to interior design, in ergonomics and also in countless carrier materials. The interior of a vehicle is increasingly perceived as a ‘living space’ that needs to be designed on another level. Valure technology represents a step into the future for car interior materials, giving a special finish and feel to components such as instrument panels, interior trim, seats and headrests.

In 2016, BMW presented a sensational automotive study: a concept car for the future, known as BMW Vision Next 100. EM.tec design was on board and worked with BMW’s designers from Munich to develop materials for the entire interior of the project, from the instrument panel to the seats to the door panels. In addition to the avant-garde look of the concept vehicle, the interior was generously designed with warm cashmere, copper shades and velvet-feel handles on flowing forms and intuitive user interfaces.

BMW’s specifications for the car were the greatest possible comfort for the passengers, sustainability and efficiency. For the concept study, the materials experts at EM.tec design supported the development of intelligent and climate-friendly materials, high-quality textiles and easily recyclable mono-materials. EM.tec design also supplied special materials for BMW Motorrad’s 100-year concept motorbike. The vehicle was unveiled at a world premiere in Los Angeles in October 2016, and featured valure technology with a black frame surface and side panels that were made by EM.tec design.

Fashion and design

Another strength of valure is the versatility and individuality it brings to materials. EM.tec design can refine cotton, linen, natural leather and synthetic materials with valure in order to provide a look and feel that is hardly distinguishable from the natural materials. It gives a soft-touch surface to items such as leather wear, bags and luggage, and shoes ranging from ballet to high heels. It also offers a tactile finish to cases for notebooks, smartphones and tablets. On the playing field, EM.tec design combines function, form and design to bring a new look to sportswear. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, even fast design changes can be realised. However, the design includes tough protection against counterfeiters – a refined detail in the production process protects the brand.

Photo finish

The camera brand Leica has a cult reputation among photographers. The internationally renowned company from Wetzlar in Germany has always been prominent for its high craftsmanship, timelessly elegant design and cameras with outstanding technology. For the limited-edition A la Carte camera, Leica chose valure: the camera housings feature an exclusively developed variant with an individual pattern. The refined material guarantees good grip and is light and durable.

EM.tec design can refine cotton, linen, natural leather and synthetic materials with valure in order to provide a look and feel that is hardly distinguishable from the natural materials.

Meanwhile, EM.tec design produced suit bags made of sphisticated high-tech material for the luxury baggage company Degeler in Hessian Rödermark, Germany. The luggage, which also includes bags for laptop and accessories, fulfills Degeler’s claim of exceptional quality on the principle of getting the maximum out of form, craftsmanship and materials.

Licence to finish

The starting point for production is a silicon mould and the desired surface structure is engraved by a laser. This use of modern laser technology allows the rapid production of matrices according to individually designed templates. The coating is microporous and air-permeable, in contrast to conventional leather dressings. This means that the refined materials are more comfortable.