TactoTek’s leading edge manufacturing technology creates tremendous opportunities

Traditionally, electronic products have been characterized by the “components in a box” approach. The idea of smoothly combining structures and electronics into a single integrated part has existed for a long time but there haven’t been successful and efficient methods available for implementing this vision. Now, the solution for manufacturing structural electronics is ready and can be regarded as one the most important innovations in the field of technology in this century. TactoTek Injection Molded Structural Electronics (IMSE) is a solution that integrates printed electronics (circuitry, sensors, and antennas) and discrete electronic components (LEDs, ICs, etc.) inside of 3D injection molded plastic structures, thus changing the 100 years old approach of electronics as merely “components in a box” into 3D-shaped, smart plastic surfaces. Because TactoTek encapsulates electronics and circuitry within injection-molded plastics, the resulting products are inherently durable and protected from the environment.

Limitless use cases for combining plastic and electronics

TactoTek IMSE integrates building blocks of lighting, sensors and active control electronics to deliver a wide range of functions in high visual quality 2D and 3D plastic structures that can be as thin as 2mm. Possible use cases are practically limitless since IMSE can be applied to almost any product that contains plastic and electronics. One of the biggest market opportunities lies in the automotive sector which is looking to save space and reduce weight in vehicles. Overhead control panels, center consoles; seat, mirror and roof top controls; sensors, antennas, keyless entry systems and lighting, are representative use cases. Other use cases include applications such as control panels for home automation and appliances, medical devices and wearable electronics. IMSE parts can be designed into new shapes with new functions, while saving space and weight, and often reduce total cost of ownership by reducing the number of components in an assembly and minimizing electro-mechanical assembly steps. Instead of several bulky parts and a complicated product structure, almost the whole material stack can be integrated within a single, seamless, thin, smart plastic surface.

Layered to perfection

Rather than inventing new, revolutionary manufacturing equipment or material, TactoTek has succeeded in combining known production technologies into a new, innovative production process. The TactoTek IMSE manufacturing process consists of five steps: 1) Printing decoration on plastic film, 2) Printing wiring, electrodes, antennas and other printable electronics on the film, 3) Mounting standard SMT electronics on film using standard 2D SMT, 4) Thermoforming the assembled film into desired 3D form and 5) Using the assembled and formed film as an insert in standard injection molding process. Steps 1, 2, and 3 take place when the structure is 2-dimensional, using existing high-speed and cost effective mass manufacturing equipment and processes. The manufacturing process is mass production ready and highly scalable as standard machinery and off-the-shelf materials are used for creating these leading edge structural electronics.
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—a patented TactoTek innovation.

Freedom of design

When exploiting IMSE technology one cannot help but appreciate the unleashed novel design possibilities. With IMSE one can notably reduce design time, parts and weight while resulting in minimized electrical and mechanical assembly. 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.

The conventional multi-part assemblies have been somewhat cumbersome and much thicker, yet they can now be replaced with the sleekest form factor designs. As a result, product manufacturing requires less material and energy, hence creating more environmentally friendly solutions.

Balanced funding to secure solid R&D and production

TactoTek’s excellent staff of engineers helps 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.

Currently, TactoTek is funded by Conor Venture Partners, VTT Ventures, Leaguer VC, private angels, TEKES, and European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

TactoTek Oy

Contact information
Automaatiotie 1
90460 Oulunsalo
+358 50 462 1212

info@tactotek.com
www.tactotek.com

TactoTek is a leading solution provider for Injection Molded Structural Electronics (IMSE) that integrate printed circuitry and electronic components into 3D injection molded plastics. Main use cases include in-vehicle applications, home/industrial appliances, and wearable technology.

Established: 2011
Origin: Oulu, Finland
CEO: Jussi Harvela
Personnel: 85 (May 2018)

Funding from

Printocent | VTT, Kaitoväylä 1, 90571 Oulu, Finland

© Printocent | VTT 2017