In-mold structural electronics (IMSE) represent the perfect blend of form and function: combining the aesthetics of in-mold decorating (IMD) with functional electronics. In other words, IMSE helps manufacturers create finished products that incorporate both design and functional elements in a single part. This type of construction can offer significant advantages over conventional electronics designs. But because many people are unfamiliar with the particulars of IMSE solutions, they don’t understand the true value this process can bring to products and manufacturing operations as a whole. Let’s explore just some of the benefits of IMSE compared to conventional electronics.

The benefits of IMSE products

Fewer parts
  • IMSE can significantly reduce the number of parts needed to create a finished product, helping to simplify the bill of materials (BOM) and eliminate or reduce downstream assembly time. DuraTech worked on one particular project where a customer was using conventional electronics for a legacy product, which created a bulky, heavy part with multiple pieces. By switching the product to an IMSE construction, DuraTech was able to reduce the number of parts produced by half.
More durable products
  • A single, solid part is less prone to damage during use than assemblies that feature multiple parts. The solid-state construction also helps protect printed graphics and electrical components because they are covered by the applique substrate.
Less weight
  • By reducing the number of parts needed to create a finished product, IMSE can reduce product weight by up to 70% and reduce part thickness by up to 90%. Lighter products not only enable different user experiences, but they also help reduce transportation costs.
Easier to clean
  • IMSE doesn’t have cracks and crevices around switches or buttons for dirt and bacteria to hide. This makes IMSE ideal for applications that require frequent cleaning or disinfection, such as wearable medical devices or products exposed to rugged environments.
Maximum weather resistance
  • IMSE is a solid-state replacement for membrane switches, which makes it ideal for outdoor applications such as outdoor keypads, wet environments and marina or nautical environments.
Superior illumination
  • IMSE eliminates the need for separate light guides and empowers greater illumination options, including:
    • LED indicators
    • Smooth icon backlighting
    • Functional ambient and large area illumination
    • Single-point and diffused LED lighting
    • Static or dynamic light lines
Greater design freedom
  • With nearly unlimited 3D design and printing options, IMSE can be customized to create the ideal user experience for your application. This is particularly true when it comes to the tactile experience. IMSE parts can include features such as:
    • Touch buttons
    • Linear and radial sliders
    • Multi-touch control
    • Scroll wheels with adjustable detents and infinity scrolling
    • Programmable haptics
    • Vibration and sound
More sustainable products
  • According to independent lifecycle analyses, IMSE processes produce 34-60% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and require 50-75% less plastic to produce. This makes IMSE a responsible choice for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

The benefits of working with DuraTech

At DuraTech, we know IMSE solutions inside and out and can work with molders and product developers to avoid common design and processing mistakes to keep projects on track and on budget. But we also have an edge that other custom graphics manufacturers can’t offer.

In the spring of 2022, DuraTech purchased a licensing agreement from TactoTek, a Finland-based deep tech company that develops and promotes Injection-Molded Structural Electronics (IMSE) with over 170 granted patents around IMSE. The partnership allows DuraTech to utilize TactoTek’s patented processes, expert engineers and intellectual property, thereby enhancing and expanding our IMSE offerings. With our decades of experience combined with TactoTek’s cutting-edge technology and services, we can create IMSE solutions that truly enhance products and help OEMs and manufacturers take their business to the next level.