Multi-functional In-Mold Electronics

Film insert molding and in-mold decoration are standard processes in injection molding allowing to generate 3D shaped objects with seamlessly integrated graphics and high freedom in design. With the emerging functional printing of circuits and sensors, the field of in-mold electronics has extremely expanded covering several applications (i.e. Human Machine Interface in automotive and industries, condition monitoring and sensors in energy generation field, healthcare, etc.). The entire manufacturing process for in-mold electronics includes several sub-processes, most of which have a high yield of ~ 99%. However, the yield for overmolding, which is crucial for the production of complex products, is 85% at best, resulting in an overall yield that is far too low and requires high tooling and process optimization costs. Since nowadays in-mold electronic products are multi-material compounds that are difficult to recycle they do not meet the requirements of European society and policy on sustainability and circularity. The currently used capacitive sensors are not usable with cold fingers or gloves and do not provide haptic feedback, thus leading to an unsatisfactory user experience. Moreover, the direct lightning by LEDs placed in the vicinity of capacitive sensors generates a substantial heat inside the injection-molded part, leading to low durability and bad user experience in the Human Machine Interface.

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