Smart surfaces will change the way we design, create and experience the future. Our patented technology makes structural surfaces smart and turns them into interactive experiences.
In-mold structural electronics (IMSE) technology will help us transform the way we look at our surrounding man-made environment.
This innovation liberates designers from structural limitations. Designers are now free to innovate and introduce electronic functions into new form factors. Smart surfaces can finally become commonplace.
This innovation makes surfaces thinner, lighter, and more durable while maintaining all the aesthetic and tactile qualities through plastic, wood, and other materials.
IMSE integrates printed circuitry and discrete electronic components within 3D injection molded plastics, creating a seamless structure.
What makes this innovation so great is that one can use existing mass-production manufacturing equipment in the process.
This technology offers you the capabilities and the properties your products have been waiting for. Meet and exceed your customer needs across markets.
Implement electrical functions anywhere you choose, in shapes and styles that support both your vision and create intuitive user interactions. Achieve elevated functionality on natural surfaces such as wood, glass, veneer, or leather.
Offer improved control by placing individual capacitive sensors or sensor groups on curved surfaces. Place sliders on linear, circular, or other shapes.
Activate functions with simple gestures using integrated proximity sensing.
Connect multiple devices wirelessly using printed antennas within the IMSE part. Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi technologies can be integrated with the close proximity of the antenna in the molded structures creating intelligent, digitized surfaces.
IMSE enables multiple styles of illumination. Choose between single color or RGB in static and dynamic implementations from LEDs– all integrated within the 3D IMSE structure. Applications include localized icon backlighting, light lines showing control levels, and large area decorative ambient illumination.
As with any product, the needs of the end user are the biggest drivers in specifying the functionality, design, usability, and technical requirements of the solution. With the list of requirements ready, an IMSE design concept is created by combining verified IMSE materials and electronic components with proven IMSE building blocks, thus enabling rapid turnaround times.
Considerations affecting the selection of IMSE materials and building blocks include:
IMSE manufacturing has four main process steps. We combine cosmetics, structure, and function into single injection-molded 3D designs, reducing assembly and integration challenges compared with conventional electronics.
IMSE manufacturing starts with printing. Decoration, if desired, is printed on film insert molding (FIM) material, followed by printing electronics including conductive circuitry, touch controls, antennas and proximity sensors.
Electronic components are mounted using standard high-speed pick-and-place (SMT) equipment. Components are attached to the FIM substrate using conductive and structural adhesives.
Thermoforming transforms the flat electronics film into its 3D shape. TactoTek® design rules and verified material stacks maintain mechanical and electrical system integrity through the forming process.
Smart film insert molding
The formed electronics film is used as an insert for injection molding, resulting in a single-piece structure with encapsulated electronics. Typical molding materials include high pressure, high temperature plastics such as polycarbonate and thermoplastic polyurethane (PC and TPU).