Boltaron translucent first class door.

Collaboration brings Boltaron translucents to life on JAL A350

Details and Design banner with text on graph paper backgroundIt’s always fascinating to see what catches the eye in the interior of a new aircraft. While Japan Airlines’ latest A350-1000 longhaul cabins have many a superb nuance, one of the most impressive — and indeed delightful — from a design point of view is the series of translucent plastics used in several places throughout the aircraft. These are from SIMONA Boltaron, and Runway Girl Network sat down with company executives to learn more about how the plastics specialist got involved, and how it created these translucent elements.

The translucents are clever, functional and beautiful, adding privacy and separation while allowing light through to create a feeling of space. This is perhaps most visibly used in the doors of the first class suite, as the surface of the business class wardrobe, and as the sliding divider between premium economy seats.

First class translucent privacy door on JAL A350 by Boltaron

Image: John Walton

It’s technically impressive that Boltaron has achieved a layered translucent that can be applied to this extent within the cabin. As UK business development director Inman explains, “it’s very hard to make a translucent material that passes flammability, smoke and heat release, because you’re going to put smoke suppressants and flame retardants in, and so you’ve got to find those that are clear.”

First glass translucent wardrobe door on JAL A350 by Boltaron

Image: John Walton

This challenge is essentially why translucent materials have been relatively rare within the aircraft, which would seem in theory ideal for seats and cabins given their ability to keep prying eyes out but let light through.

Boltaron translucent first class door.

Image: Boltaron/JAL

With project lineage stretching back from the company’s work with design house tangerine on the previous JAL A350-900 domestic cabin, Inman tells RGN that tangerine approached them to be part of the project.


Working with the likes of tangerine, Inman says, “we provide those design agencies with a number of tools. We provide them with what we call the design box: when they look in that, they see our range of textures, they see some of the examples of small thermoformed translucent materials with prints in them, they see the extruded textures, they see our metallics, they see our pearlescents.” 

The crucial puzzle piece is combining in a technical sense — including flammability, smoke and heat release, and so on — the various material and finish options to create a product, because certain materials may not combine well together, or others may need to be added to make a certain effect work.

If a translucent tinges towards blue, for example, other coloured or textured films may be needed to make it harmonise with the rest of the cabin. 

“Our unique capability to combine multiple production processes allows us to create the bespoke look of our 9000 Series VIO product by incorporating custom colors and prints into a multi-layered structure​,” technical director Samantha Stacy explains to RGN. “Our process combination also allows for the application of specialty custom textures, such as the fluted look of the literature pocket, for a higher end feel in the final application.”

Translucents are used in the wardrobe.But the secret sauce is the way that relationships across the industry over many years allow for strong collaboration at vision stage — even remotely — and the ability to translate what might be leading-edge or even bleeding-edge materials into the cabin environment.

Boltaron translucent seat divider. .

Image: Boltaron/JAL

As specialty products operations manager Jenn Case summarises, “what began as concept sampling in 2020, has since evolved to the beautiful results we see in the JAL A350 parts you see today. With the collaboration between SIMONA Boltaron, the airline, and design houses we are able to optimise our market knowledge, technical capabilities, and industry-leading manufacturing methods to bring the initial vision and design intent to life.”

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Featured image credited to Boltaron/JAL