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98 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2019 and is significantly thinner. TactoTek has dem- onstrated structural, electronic designs with 70% weight and 90% thickness reduction when compared to conventional multi-part as- semblies (Figure 2). Core manufacturing processes for structur- al electronics are printing, surface mounting, forming, and injection molding (Figure 3). Tak- en individually, these processes are mature, and we use standard equipment suitable for mass production. However, the standard pro- cesses are combined in a unique way during the manufacturing of structural electronics. Printing is the first core manufacturing pro- cess. Electronics and decoration (graphic inks) are printed onto plastic film or another suit- able substrate material. Electronics are typical- ly printed using silver (Ag), conductive inks, and dielectric inks to insulate between lay- ers of circuitry. The outputs are two kinds of films: electronic and surface. The latter films are used for decorations, such as icons for the human-machine interface. In some cases, a single film can be used for both decoration and electronics. Both films can also be a sub- strate for electronics. Surface-mounting technology (SMT) is the second core process. Components are placed and bonded, mechanically and electrical- ly, onto electronic films. The output is a 2D film substrate with components. Forming is the third core process. 2D electric and graphic films are thermoformed into a 3D shape and trimmed as needed. Outputs are 3D electric films with components and 3D graphic films. Injection molding is the fourth core manu- facturing process. 3D electric films and 3D graphic films are used as inserts in an injec- tion molding tool, and a plastic resin, such as polycarbonate (PC), is injected between the films, resulting in a sin- gle molded part. The output is a strong and durable structure in Figure 2: TactoTek has demonstrated structural electronics designs with 70% weight and 90% thickness reduction when compared with conventional multi-part assemblies. Figure 3: Core manufacturing processes for structural electronics.

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