3D Structural In-Mold Electronics: New Design Freedom and New Design Rules
CTO & Co-Founder
In-Mold Electronics (IME) is a proven technology for bringing functionality into mechanical structures, making formerly dead spaces alive and functional. Basic IME in its simplest form - flat or mildly curved surfaces augmented with printed wiring - offers straightforward solutions for eg. for touch sensing, antennas, and heating elements.
More complex functionality requires basic IME to be augmented with existing components, such as LEDs and control systems in case of complex lighting. Design wise, IME with thermoplastic electronics substrates and plastic wirings offers a platform for thermoplastic electronics: A contemporary cost-effective solution for mass produced 3D electronics and true smart surfaces.
Integration of electronic functionalities, mechanical support, and decorative materials into a single monolithic structure instead of multiple distinct parts leads directly to drastic reduction of materials and logistics needed. Further, the additive process of printing electronics directly onto thin substrate diminishes the environmental load implied in using traditional PCBs and wet etching methods.
In the masterclass, we discuss the overall 3D structural IME solution with real-life applications and demonstrators concerning the main manufacturing and design aspects. Special emphasis is given to the changes in design rules going from traditional PCB electronics with separate mechanical parts to formable structural electronics.