Project periode: 1 April 2014 - 31 March 2017

Project summary:

In the project 3D-MEOD (3-dimensional molded electro-optical device) a prototype of a modern control console with special functional features was developed. Using roll-to-roll (R2R) nanoimprint lithography, screen printing and pick & place, functional elements such as touch-sensitive surfaces are processed seamlessly as sensor keys with illumination on a carrier foil. This is then laminated, high-pressure formed and back-injected. Foil back injection is the refinement of plastic components by foils with decorative (paint, non-stick layer, structuring) and functional (optical, sensory and electronic) elements.

The 3D-shaped user interface is lightweight, slim and controlled by backlit, pressure-sensitive, seamlessly integrated keys. The operating elements are flexible in use, robust, reliable and easy to clean. Thermodynamic and optical simulations are used for cost- and time-efficient planning of the design and processes. A simulation database serves as a basis for the development of functionalized applications with different shapes and designs.

3D-MEOD was supported by FFG within the framework of the program “Production of the Future”. The project consortium of fourteen project partners was led by JOANNEUM RESEARCH. The complementary know-how of the individual project partners and the findings of several preliminary projects flow into the production of a thin, flexible user interface of the future within the framework of a multi-stage value-added process. The increasing interest in such surfaces, e.g. from the automotive sector, leads one to expect many application possibilities and new product developments in the most diverse areas in the future, which attach importance to a high-quality user interface for humans.

The vision of the project team was to eliminate the need for switches in everyday devices and to operate them via smooth and seamless surfaces with interactive, touch-sensitive interfaces such as backlit keys or displays. Electronic, optical and sensory elements had to be integrated into complex plastic parts.

The project explored new possibilities for creating the “control console of the future”. The developed seamless, interactive, 3D-shaped user interface features transparent, plastically deformable functional components for electronics, sensors and lighting, which can withstand the requirements of successive processes (especially the harsh conditions of the forming processes). All functions were integrated on a carrier film. The different design conditions (e.g. different material properties, layer thicknesses, component sizes) were taken into account. As a result, new processes for plastically deformable functionalities on film substrates were developed during the project, which can be integrated seamlessly and without restrictions in design into three-dimensionally formed injection moulded parts. In particular, the defined user interface with full functionality was successfully implemented in two different functional patterns, each in small quantities.

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RTO Institute

Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH

RTO Contact

Maria Belegratis

+43 316 876-3102