Integrated electronics make for sleek, smart surfaces

Polycarbonate poised to play starring role in some future electronic devices

Exclusively for K-MAG

Courtesy of Niebling GmbH

Niebling GmbH uses a High-Pressure Forming (HPF) process to produce its in-mold electronics. This 3D formed film shows embedded silver circuits and LED lights. Courtesy of Niebling GmbH


Courtesy of Covestro AG

Germany's Covestro partnered with Finland's TactoTek to develop the Nighthawk Demonstrator, which they unveiled at CES 2022. The device showcases in-mold structural electronics on a polycarbonate substrate. Courtesy of Covestro AG

Two industry perspectives

Courtesy of Covestro AG

The Nighthawk Demonstrator features electronics for wiring and touch controls printed on Makrofol® PC film. This bottom layer is part of a "sandwich" construction that includes a structural Makrolon® PC resin middle layer plus a decorative and protective top layer. Courtesy of Covestro AG

Copyright: Volkswagen AG

Driven by a desire for smooth, easily cleanable surfaces, automakers such as Volkswagen are pushing the adoption of IME in applications such as steering wheels. Their goal is to reduce the number of gaps and crevices associated with mechanical buttons and switches. Copyright: Volkswagen AG

Copyright: Melitta

Consumer products such as this Melitta coffee maker with its back-lit user interface offer an excellent example of an IME application with tremendous promise. Copyright: Melitta

An attractive appliance market

Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

DuraTech developed this demonstrator panel to show appliance brands what IME can do for them. This front-side view clearly illustrates an increased level of design freedom possible with 3D structures. Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

This back-side view of the same demonstrator shows how inks and substrates can conform into thin, complex shapes. Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

Introducing the Nighthawk Demonstrator

Courtesy of Covestro AG

Shown here on display in Covestro's CES booth, the Nighthawk Demonstrator uses LED backlighting to help produce a smooth, seamless yet functional exterior surface that eliminates buttons and gaps to make it easier to safely wipe down with disinfecting chemicals. Courtesy of Covestro AG

Improved sustainability

Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

This back-side view of a sample white-goods panel offers a stark comparison into the size difference between traditional printed circuit boards (top) and in-mold electronics (bottom) that can perform exactly the same function in roughly one-tenth of the space. Courtesy of DuraTech Industries

Leveraging Lidar

Copyright: Mercedes-Benz AG

Mercedes is among those increasingly using IME as a means to produce handsome interior displays that both reduce weight and offer the opportunity to make distinctive design features. Copyright: Mercedes-Benz AG

Robert Grace

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