IMSE in a Nutshell
TactoTek® in-mold structural electronics (IMSE™) solutions integrate and encapsulate printed electronics and standard electronic components within durable 3D injection-molded plastics. Because IMSE parts are thin (2-4mm) and able to conform to complex 3D shapes, designers have the freedom to add electronic functions where they choose and in shapes and styling that support their design vision and natural user interactions. At TactoTek we work directly with OEMs/brands and their design and manufacturing partners to realize their visions in mass producible, economical IMSE technology.
SEAMLESS, EASILY CLEANED 3D SHAPE
IMSE parts are three-dimensional, seamless, and easily cleaned. Compared to traditional electronics IMSE reduces part wall thickness up to 90% and part weight up to 70%. Surface shapes and material treatments improve usability in human machine interfaces (HMIs).
SIMPLIFIED & ENCAPSULATED STRUCTURE
Each IMSE part is a seamless one-piece structure that replaces multi-part assemblies of traditional electronics. Electronics within an IMSE part are encapsulated by injection molded plastics - they are reliable, durable and protected from debris and moisture.
FUNCTIONAL AND COSMETIC VARIANTS WITH SINGLE TOOL SET
IMSE supports fast product updates because multiple product versions can be produced with a single tool set. Both cosmetics and electronic functions can be modified with printing processes. IMSE structures can feature also natural surface materials, such as wood and leather.
Primary IMSE manufacturing processes include printing, surface mounting, thermoforming and injection molding. To ensure economical, scalable mass production, TactoTek has developed IMSE design rules and production methods that enable using standard equipment, including high-speed 2D pick-and-place (SMT) to surface mount electronic components.
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.
2. SURFACE MOUNTING
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.
4. 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).
IMSE Platforms are the foundations for IMSE product design. IMSE Platforms are stacks of surface materials, resins, decorative and functional inks and electronic components. TactoTek subjects every platform to an extensive industrialization process to ensure mass production readiness and lifetime reliability.
IMSE Building Blocks
IMSE building blocks are functions that are combined in a part based on product requirements. Functions include capacitive sensing, illumination, wireless connectivity and proximity sensing. Different surface materials and geometries allow our customers to realize their unique design visions with look & feel.
An IMSE product requires fewer parts and less plastics compared to parts built with conventional methods, and is produced using clean additive processes. IMSE technology reduces plastics use by up to 70% and produces 35% less greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction to ready-made products (cradle to gate). TactoTek's approach to IMSE sustainability covers a wider scope from initial part design through end-of-life. IMSE designs are realized with a simulation-driven processes that reduce the number of physical prototypes. IMSE designs also reduce the amount of manufacturing tools by up to 90% compared to conventional electronics. IMSE designs enable ecodesign via reduction of required materials and energy for manufacturing. Read more about ecodesign here.