At the 13th IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe conference and exhibition in Berlin, Holst Centre – an innovation initiative by imec and TNO – received the Best Institute/Academic R&D Award for a functional demonstrator using in-mold electronics (IME) technology, which creates a large opportunity for intuitive human-machine interfaces (HMIs) in automotive electronics and consumer appliances.
Developed by a group of key industry players led by Holst Centre, the demonstrator, a car center console, features a mobile phone storage space with integrated NFC connectivity and touch controls illuminated by flexible OLEDs. Light and conformal, IME technology integrates all this functionality directly into a 3D plastic surface just 1.5 mm thick. The demonstrator shows how IME technology could be applied in anything from shavers to car cockpits.
The console demonstrator highlights IME's potential for transforming 'dumb' plastic structures with embedded intelligence to enable enhanced and intuitive user experiences. All the electronics are fabricated on a stretchable, flexible and formable smart skin that is then integrated into the plastic during standard thermoforming or injection molding processes. The technique can be used to create 3D smart objects or extremely thin functional surfaces of any form.
One of the judges reported "In Mold Electronics for wiring and capacitive switches is an exciting near term opportunity. By adding more functionality such as OLEDs and NFC, Holst Centre opens up further opportunity for new user interfaces."
"We're excited to receive this award. A couple of years ago, when we started our IME activities, industrial interest was still limited. To our pleasant surprise, interest has grown beyond expectations. The number of companies exploring this disruptive way of integrating electronics into parts has become large. We are proud to have played a role in this as one of the pioneers in this field" reports Dr Jeroen Van den Brand, Program Director at Holst Centre.
The award was presented by Mr. Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx and Mr. Ben Cooper, VF Global Innovation Center. The judges of the awards were Mr. Ashutosh Tomar, Principal Engineer, Technology Strategy at Jaguar Land Rover and Professor Ulrich Moosheimer of Munich University of Applied Sciences.
The console was exhibited at Nano Tech 2017 in Tokyo, Japan in mid-February and the LOPEC conference in Munich end of March. It is currently on display on our booth G19 at IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe.