parts that employ the stretchable electronics. TactoTek engineers say that many designers find the advantages to be, not only functional (such as weight and thickness), but aesthetic, as well.
“It’s fun to meet with design engineers and let them get their hands on the parts and see the light bulbs go on,” Rice said.
To be sure, TactoTek and DuPont aren’t alone in the market. Others, including Sun Chemical , Eastprint, Inc. , Duratech Industries , Alsentis, and T+ink, are involved in various aspects of in-mold electronics technology, as well.
Engineers expect the breadth of potential applications to grow in the next few years, but they caution that the technology is best suited for systems involving low electronic density and relatively low power. “If you need to drive a lot of power through your system – like in an automotive headlight – then you should probably be dealing with conventional wiring,” Rice said.
Still, expectations for structural electronics are high. DuPont engineers describe the potential for growth as “gigantic.”
“We are still right at the very beginning of bringing this technology to the market,” Burrows said.
Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.