TactoTek Secures In-Mold Structural Electronics (IMSE) Lighting Patent

TactoTek uses injection molded structural plastic as a light guide to deliver lighting effects in thin designs and reduce total cost of ownership

OULU AREA, FINLAND (September 20, 2016) – TactoTek, a leading manufacturer of 3D injection molded structural electronics (IMSE) solutions today announced that it has received a United States Patent 9297675 for “illuminated indicator structures for electronic devices,” technology that enables sophisticated lighting in very thin 3D plastic ‘smart surfaces.’

According to TactoTek CTO and co-Founder, Antti Keränen, “This patent recognizes a key innovation for IMSE technology—employing the plastic material that is the structure of a part as a light guide. Using this technique we can create very bright, evenly distributed illumination within structures as thin as 2 millimeters.”

For illumination, traditional electronics designs typically include a cosmetic surface structure and use a separate light pipe structure to direct lighting to the surface from a flat, rigid printed circuit board (PCB). In comparison, TactoTek IMSE solutions consolidate printed electronics and light emitting diodes (LEDs), within the 3D molded plastic part and use the plastics themselves to conduct light.

“By using the molding material of a cosmetic surface as a light guide, TactoTek IMSE technology removes design constraints that have prescribed thick, multi-part assemblies,” noted Hasse Sinivaara, Head of Product Management, he continued “and as we remove parts, we remove design time, weight and minimize electrical and mechanical assembly—very appealing when considering form factor innovation and total cost of ownership (TCO).”

TactoTek’s solutions can integrate printed electronics, such as circuitry, touch controls and antennas, and discrete electronic components, such as LEDs and ICs, into light, 3D injection molded plastics as thin as 2mm. By incorporating circuitry and electronics directly into plastic structures, TactoTek enables brands to design innovative form factors and consolidate electronics into a single 3D structure.

TactoTek maintains a staff of engineers to help customers adapt their traditional electronics designs into IMSE solutions. The company prototypes and manufactures products in its Oulu, Finland, factory that includes complete, vertically-integrated production capabilities; mass production can be performed by TactoTek or TactoTek-licensed production partners.