Injection Molded Structural Electronics Enables Smart Surfaces
TactoTek and fischer automotive announced that they have collaborated on a smart surface technology demonstrator to show examples of design innovation that fulfill market demands for integrating styling, electronic functions and manufacturability of smart surfaces at commercial scale. The injection molded structural electronics (IMSE™) combine printed electronics and discrete components in a single design.
“Demands on vehicle interior systems are very high today, and solutions must offer appealing design combined with high quality materials,” noted Johannes Konrad, Head of the Management Board from fischer automotive. “How parts integrate within future vehicle interiors as well as the individual functions and design elements must be considered together. Moreover, user interfaces must deliver intuitive operation, and increasingly use patterns are driven by consumer electronics.”
To show user experience features and manufacturability, fischer automotive and TactoTek developed a technology demonstrator. The fischer automotive/TactoTek demonstrator features sensor surfaces for operating command input that are illuminated with LEDs molded directly into the plastic that forms the engineered structure of the part.
In addition to individual sensors, a raised round knob is used for multi-touch rotary inputs. The knob is enhanced with tactile features to guide users. Illumination is used for styling, guiding interactions and communicating vehicle status information to the driver.
In the design, the human-machine interface sensors, circuitry and lighting are integrated within a seamless single piece injection molded part that also provides the mechanical structure and is only 3mm thick. The part is designed and manufactured using TactoTek IMSE technology.
TactoTek develops, industrializes and licenses IMSE™ technology that combines printed electronics and electronic components within single piece, seamless 3D injection molded structures. Surface finishes range from plastics to elegant natural materials, including wood. The company packages its technology for licensees in two products, IMSE Designer™ for IMSE part design, and IMSE Builder™ for IMSE part mass production, testing and quality assurance. For automotive markets, TactoTek licensees mass produce IMSE parts.
“fischer automotive is well-known for design innovation in vehicle interiors, including air vents and multi-function components that are high value innovation areas for smart surfaces,” noted Sami Hyyryläinen, SVP Field Operations at TactoTek. “Our shared demonstrator illustrates new styles of controls for which IMSE is well-suited and results in parts that benefit from the qualities of IMSE technology, including being light, thin and easily integrated, while delivering total cost efficiency.”