CONSUMER ELECTRONICS AS SEEN BY A FLEXIBLE ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING COMPANY
In2tec is a design to manufacture provider of bespoke electronic solutions. For over 25 years, we have specialised in creating custom electronic solutions for clients in increasingly diverse markets, from banking to motorsport and beyond. We have invested heavily in the R&D of flexible electronics, and use these, among a broader set of technologies, so our electronic designers can exceed clients expectations based on their unique situations and specifications.
What Are Flexible Electronics?
Flexible electronics enable electronic design that defies expectations, they are a set of technologies that include fully flexible and curved or contoured rigid circuits, interconnects or components. Examples include curved interfaces (popularised by recent smartphones) and flexible circuit boards made through additive printed circuit assembly. The applications of flexible electronics most of us are interested in occur at home, and this is reflected in the fact that as the flexible electronics market is expected to grow from $23.92 billion in 2018 to $40.37 billion by 2023, the consumer electronics segment is expected to hold the largest share of that market.
Flexible Electronics for Smart Home Devices
The global smart home market is expected to reach around $107.4 billion by 2023, and flexible electronics are one of the key enabling technologies of smart home devices. The 2016 Smart Home Survey by appliance market giant Whirlpool found that 69% of homeowners were familiar with the “smart home” concept, with 45% claiming their home was already “smart”. 66% claimed their next appliance purchase will be a smart appliance. Plus, in a survey about 2019 tech trends, participants identified smart home technology as the emerging tech trend that they’re most excited to try this year. Plus, retrofitted smart “add-on” technologies such as applying motion activated sensors to showers are becoming increasingly widespread. All this means more devices in the home, so it makes sense to make all devices smaller, using light and thin flexible circuits, interconnects and components to ensure minimal space sacrifice in exchange for added functionality.
Other Flexible Electronics Applications in the Home
Other applications of flexible technology in the home include consumer robotics (because electromechanical arms can be built with flexible components that bend with the arm instead of break like traditional components), which are also rising in availability and popularity. Current applications include assisted living, household care, companionship, teaching assistants, nannies and personal assistants. Non-robotic automation devices, another application of flexible electronics solutions in the home, include intelligent speaker systems such as Amazon’s Alexa, and they are predicted by Forbes to undergo huge advances in functionality over the next five years. This shows that both flexible electronics and emerging technologies supported by them will continue to grow in applications and market share.
The Benefits of Flexible Electronics
Among the benefits of flexible electronics (compared to traditional, rigid alternatives) are size, weight, portability, and energy efficiency. Above all, they make previously impossible designs and technologies (such as wearable devices) possible. The unique designs possible when utilising In2tecs custom made flexible electronics go beyond looks, they allow brands to increase market share through product differentiation. The following sections detail each of In2tec’s major flexible electronic technologies and their applications within homes. If you want to find out how your company could benefit from flexible circuit technologies, by using In2tec as your electronic design and manufacturing company, call us on +44 (0) 1536 419200 or email [email protected]. Using In2tec to contractually design and develop parts for your company is increasingly common because you can reduce overall costs and shift from fixed to variable costs.
In2Sense 3D: Contoured Capacitive Touch
In2tec’s In2sense 3D is the market leading conductive contoured touch interface technology. We combine all necessary components and circuitry on a single plane, also referred to as rigid flex circuitry.
In2sense bespoke electronics are customised to clients requirements, whether they need to reduce weight and size or allow never-before-seen designs.
Dr Veres, program manager at the printed electronics division of the Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory at the Palo Alto Research Centre points out that control panels for appliances are gaining significant traction. According to Lopec, washing machines and refrigerators are about to undergo a major transformation, due to the consistent addition of new features such as remote access, which will necessitate more advanced control panels.
Interfaces for Complex Devices
Ultra-thin touch-sensitive sensors and displays, utilising rigid flex PCB design, already ensure the growing capabilities of appliances are clearly used. This is evidenced in controls such as ventilation and lighting usually found on oven hoods being transferred to control panels on hobs, unifying command of the entire system while streamlining the looks. Optimal, streamlined designs are an ideal application of In2sense 3D’s fully flush, contoured interfaces.
Sleek stylings are the future of home design, according to a recent survey published by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. The survey indicates contemporary styles with clean lines and little ornamentation will dominate kitchen design, despite consistent additional innovative electronics.
Premium HVAC Interfaces
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or other systems utilising wall mounted controls benefit equally from In2sense 3D, and they too are needing increasingly advanced control systems (according to Calvin Kim, product manager for GE Appliances’ window A/C units, portables and dehumidifiers) which with inferior electronics will require extra space and restrict installation to thick walls or protruding boxes. In2tec works with HVAC market leaders to create interfaces that fit anywhere and include next-generation functionality in a clear format. Clients trust our bespoke curved interfaces because we invented the world’s first complex curve capacitive touch interface. Our competitor’s inability to recreate our designs proves our expertise in curved control panels.
Smart office: Secret until lit keyboard
Our smart office is a secret-until-lit keyboard using In2sense 3D circuitry, providing the same fully-flush, low weight, space saving benefits. It’s waterproof and antimicrobial, surpassing hygiene and safety standards in a number of industries. We were nominated for a Crystal Cabin Award for applying our Smart Office technology to tray tables for passenger aircraft.
This interface has fewer applications, only being needed for more complicated systems where typing would be useful. For example, noticeboards or internet-browsing computers built into worktops or fridge doors. In2tec is currently the only electronic design company offering this technology. For more information visit https://www.in2tec.com/products/in2sense-smart-office/.
What is Iflex?
Iflex is In2tec’s bespoke fully flexible circuitry. Iflex printed circuit assemblies are made by printing silver conductive ink onto special substrates. They are thin and light, making them ideal for adding functionality without adding bulk. Most importantly, they can bend to any shape during production or as part of the final design of the product. These flexible printed electronics enable ground breaking new applications, for example comfortable wearable devices and electronic skin patches that revolutionising healthcare.
Light and Thin Flexible Circuits
Within households, these flexible circuit solutions enable the miniaturisation of appliances, at a time when making devices smaller is the number one design priority for electronics engineers, plus smaller appliances are urgently needed by the growing population living in diminishing spaces.
In2tec is ahead of the curve and has already become an expert in helping clients shed unwanted weight and bulk. We accomplish this with Iflex flexible printed circuit boards, otherwise known as flexible PCB or flex PCB, among other technologies. Due to the unique traits of this technology, it is used to enable some of the most innovative emerging technologies within the domestic electronics market, for example home security drones.
The Best Flexible Circuitry
Iflex is the favoured flexible electronic circuitry for diverse market leaders, because it’s four times as flexible as competitor offerings. Our flex circuit assembly outperforms Kapton printed circuit assemblies (the market standard) by design. Iflex flex circuits are the best option in every application where Kapton breaks or adds too much mass or weight.
The additive printing process uses exactly the required materials, rather than the excessive amounts of copper in Kapton circuits. Clients can save money and emissions per unit, increasing profit margins while reducing carbon footprint and adding sustainable credibility. For more information on Iflex visit www.in2tec.com/products/iflex-flexible-circuits.
Re:Use: Recyclable Circuit Boards
Re:Use refers to In2tec’s unique unzippable printed flex circuit assemblies, they are up to 95% recyclable. Recently, energy efficiency has become a critical area of focus for companies seeking innovative ways to increase profit margins and market share. Alongside this, global legislation outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement will soon ban unsustainable electronics. In parallel, there is increased consumer interest in eco-friendly products, making this the perfect time to switch your circuit boards to Re:Use or an Iflex flex circuit board.
Sustainable Printed Circuit Board Assembly
Traditional printed circuit board and printed circuit board assembly technology is predominately based around thermoset resin boards and copper conductors. These technologies are under 1% recyclable – because there are no circular strategies available and only the precious metals are reclaimable. All of our electronics are as sustainable as possible, but this is our strongest answer, as an electric engineering company, to the growing electronic waste problem, which is creating giant toxic landfills that cause neurological, digestive, respiratory and bone problems for large populations. Within the home, this circuitry is widely applicable, contact us today to see how it applies to your products. To find out more about Re:Use, visit www.in2tec.com/products/reuse-sustainable-technology/.
Flat Shielded Twisted Pair: Custom Flat Cables
We create high-speed data transmitting twisted pair cables made with additive manufacturing procedures similar to our Iflex flexi circuits. This applies the same superior flexibility, weight and space benefits to data communication. This is increasingly important as more complex electronics fill our homes, even though many are now wireless.
Some applications, like high-end sound systems, require higher quality transmission and latency than wireless, yet perfect for flexible technology solutions. Designers of high-end sound systems place almost as much emphasis on design as they do sound quality. So flat, flexible cables are demanded to ensure cables don’t detract from the looks of devices that can cost millions.
Using twisted pair flat cables, we have recently invented an unreeling, retracting interconnect, like an extension cable reel. We can implement this into devices such as a games consoles or computers. The cables for connecting other devices would disappear when unused, making the space look tidier and removing trip hazards. For more information visit www.in2tec.com/products/shield-twisted-pair/.
FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS DESIGN TO MANUFACTURE
We predict that over time, homes will fill with more devices utilising flexible circuits and interfaces. Experts state that by 2022 connected white goods will be standard. The benefits of flexible electronic design are unignorable, whether for a cat feeding connected fridge, or something a lot simpler. Working with In2tec as the contract flexible electronics specialist for your electronics OEM ensures your product stands out.
Comprehensive Electronic Design Service
We offer the full design to manufacture service, working as both electronics consultants and an electronic design company. While also providing the highest quality circuit board design and PCB prototypes, as well as performing thorough testing. After, we offer cost-effective international manufacturing to ensure the best pricing strategies. Then, we ensure delivery of our bespoke technology in accordance with your seamless supply chains. Beyond curved interfaces and flexible printed circuit boards assembly, we provide membrane keypads, enclosures, metalwork, plastic moulding and more.
Get in touch with a brief description of your unique situation with an email to [email protected] or a call to +44 (0) 1536 419200. For more information about In2tec or our custom electronics, visit www.in2tec.com