You've heard of PET and HDPE; have you heard of TPO?
Driven by the automotive industry, plastics companies like Borealis and Sabic are making material advances and devising new production methods.
Pictured at top in a Fiat 500, Borealis' new TPO (polypropylene-based Daplen thermoplastic olefins) is being used for bumpers and dashboards; the new plastic's properties are "excellent scratch resistance and the ability to achieve uniform thickness over a large surface area. Its low thermal expansion over a broad temperature range ensures consistent high quality for large, moulded parts and precise fitting to other exterior panels."
Sabic's new Visualfx resins use two-shot molding and hydrographics. The former (photo below, in an Opel Corsa) is a method of layering resins with hardware or wiring embedded inside, which can enable glowing switches and knobs with translucency and internal light sources. The latter is a method of "immersing a part in an ink pattern floating on water like a film. The pattern adheres to the part [and] can wrap around the part to provide better coverage than with traditional in-mold decoration applications."
via jobwerx and jobwerx