In-Mold Electronics (IME)

In-Mold Electronics (IME)

In-Mold Electronics (IME), also known as In-Mold Structural Electronics (IMSE), offers a revolutionary technology to seamlessly integrate lightweight electronics into applications such as smart surfaces in automotive, aerospace and white goods such as washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers.  In-Mold Electronics provides a multi-step process to screen print stretchable electronic advanced materials, followed by thermoforming to create 3D structures before being encapsulated to provide high durability and lightweight electronic structures.  At Dycotec we work in close collaboration with OEMS as well as tier 1/tier 2 designers/manufacturers to provide the complete product portfolio of advanced materials to enable In-Mold Electronics.  

In-Mold Electronics offers the following advantages over traditional electronics assembly processes:

Sustainable: being greater than 70% more sustainable than conventional electronics technology, using less materials and allowing use of recyclable plastics

Improved durability: as the electronics is molded with an encapsulating plastic, it offers superb long term durable performance against moisture ingress and protection from dirt and other debris.

Dycotec-In-Mold_electronics

 

Thin form factors: materials are thermoformed to create 3D electronic structures that conform to the component design eg automotive interior lighting or console.

Lightweight electronics: up to 70% lighter than traditional electronics assembly

Reduced cost: In-Mold Electronics offers fewer number of manufacturing processing steps and the ability to easily incorporate electronic functionality such as capacitive touch, switching, LEDs and printed resistors enables cost reduction up to 30% over conventional electronics.

Design flexibility: Designers have substantial freedom to produce more sophisticated and asthetically pleasing stylistic devices.  For example, capacitive switching can be designed to any shape, improved product lighting through placement of LEDs and sensing and wireless capability can be readily implemented. Additionally, In-Mold Electronic inks are compatible with graphics inks (In-Mold Decorative, IMD) allowing graphic layers to be easily combined with electronic functional layers.  Fast product development cycles are possible as changes in screen design enable multiple test designs to be easily evaluated.

In-Mold Electronics Manufacturing Process

Screen Print: Electronic Inks are typically printed on In-Mold Decorative graphic inks using well known screen printing technology.  Electronics inks included conductive inks for circuitry, dielectric inks to allow cross over structures, conductive adhesives and underfill materials. Dycotec provides a product portfolio of all screen printable inks needed for In-Mold Electronics.

Assembly: Components are attached such as LEDs, resistor and capacitors using conventional pick and place technology. Typical equipment is conventional high-volume pick & place Surface Mount Technology (SMT).  Dycotec provides conductive adhesives and underfills/encapsulants needed for this process.

Thermoforming: The thermoforming process enables the formation of a 3-D electronics plastic shape from a printed circuit produced on flat sheet.  Our stretchable In-Mold Electronics products are extensively tested to ensure compatibility with thermoforming.

Injection Molding: The In-Mold Electronics process is completed in the final stage by encapsulating in plastic using injection molding.  This ensures the electronics are protected ensuring long term durability from moisture, dirt and other debris.  Our products have been designed to withstand the high temperatures and pressure of plastic injection molding.

Why use the Dycotec Product Portfolio ?

Over the last few years, we have been working extensively with the world renowned Centre of Process Innovation (CPI) on the processing and durability testing of our In-Mold Electronics product portfolio.  This has resulted in product portfolio of compatible In-Mold Electronic inks, including:

IME Conductive Silver Inks

  • Highly thermoformable
  • Excellent electrical conductivity
  • Rapid customisation and optimisation of conductivity and stretchability of pastes depending on In-Mold Electronics design
  • Printability >4 hour screen residence time
  • Superb durability performance

IME Dielectric Cross Over Inks

  • High thermoformability and avoidance of cracking
  • Low pin-hole formation
  • Excellent shunt resistance with minimal number of print layers

IME Conductive Adhesives

  • Stretchable conductive adhesives
  • Withstand injection molding high temperatures and pressure processing

IME Carbon Conductive

  • IME formable carbon
  • Enables further protection of silver contact if needed
  • Excellent electrical conductivity

IME Non-Conductive Underfill

  • Used in combination with our stretchable adhesives to increase bond strength

Our products have proven durability and are compatible with commonly used graphic ink layers. Due to the large number of applications that benefit from this technology with varying thermoformed features, different graphic inks, molding conditions and print processes we work in partnership with our customers to ensure swift adoption (and customisation if needed) of our In-Mold Electronic inks into high volume production.

Please contact us to discuss your In-Mold Electronics application.

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    Applications

    9

    Smart Glass

    Our high electrical conductivity and durable conductive materials are used in the fabrication of the electronic bus-bar strips for smart windows use.

    9

    Heaters

    Our overcoat, conductive adhesive and conductive inks are tailored for use in either transparent or more standard printed heater coils.

    9

    Antenna

    The use of our high electrical conductivity copper, silver or carbon inks ensures that high frequency antenna systems can be cost effectively manufactured.

    9

    Printed Circuit Board

    Our high performance conductive inks and adhesive materials, which are capable of withstanding high temperature processing can be used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards.

    9

    In-Mold Electronics

    Our extensive product portfolio provides all the necessary material sets required for In-Mold Electronics

    9

    Sensors

    Our high electrical conductivity and durable conductive materials are used in the fabrication of the electronic bus-bar strips for smart windows use.

    9

    Solar / Photovoltaic

    Our conductive and insulating materials offer long lifetime performance for use in the manufacture of high efficiency thin film solar cells.

    9

    Display

    Our overcoat materials used in combination with our conductive silver and copper based conductive materials are used in OLED and Touch displays.
    Our materials utilise an environmentally friendly and cost effective additive approach.

    9

    Wearable/Stretchable

    We provide a portfolio of inks for use in wearable technology including stretchable and washable conductive inks, encapsulants and adhesives