Covestro, a leading polymer company, returns to CES in 2022 with TactoTek®, showcasing the endless possibilities of smart surfaces with a new, jointly developed demonstration device, the Nighthawk demonstrator with integrated display. TactoTek® is a pioneer of in-mold structural electronics (IMSE®) solutions, a key component of which are the polycarbonate resin and films that give them their structure.

In addition to the Nighthawk, Covestro will showcase the BatRay overhead control console. These demonstrators are designed to show various in-home and in-car use cases that are not only innovative, but are more eco-friendly because they reduce the number of parts to fulfill a use case, reduce plastics use by up to 70% and CO2 emissions by up to 35% relative to conventional electronics. In both units, electronics for wiring and touch controls are printed using clean, additive processes, and electronic components are surface mounted on polycarbonate film, which, along with a decorative film is inserted into an injection mold for encapsulation in polycarbonate resin. The result is a single piece, seamless, electronic structure, IMSE®.

These functional and decorative surfaces include in-mold illumination, and touch controls. The Nighthawk includes a display added after the injection molding process; the BatRay includes a printed Bluetooth® antenna. This allows designers to seamlessly blend control surfaces with decor in cars, kitchens, bathrooms and industrial workspaces. Now any surface can be a smart surface.

The high clarity, low viscosity and unique thermal conductivity of Makrolon® polycarbonate resins are key to making these devices possible, while Makrofol® polycarbonate films provide UV and scratch resistance.  Reducing the complexity of the material stack of any device increases the potential for efficient separation and recycling. Covestro brings over 65 years of polycarbonate manufacturing experience to bear in helping to bring these new, innovative, and more sustainable solutions to the world.

“Devices which utilize IMSE® solutions are not only thinner, but also 50-70% lighter than those traditional devices, which reduces the carbon footprint of those devices during manufacturing, transportation and use,” says John Skabardonis, Technical Marketing Manager at Covestro. “IMSE parts have passed the demanding requirements of the automotive industry opening the door to rapid adoption in other markets. Moreover, both cosmetics and functions of IMSE parts can be modified without tooling changes supporting efficient localization and low cost product upgrades”

“Structures aren’t going away, so there’s great benefit to integrating the electronic features users want within those structures and simplifying the overall assembly, turning them into smart surfaces,” says Jussi Harvela, CEO at TactoTek®. “IMSE® solutions enable differentiated designs, are easily integrated into both familiar and unconventional locations, moreover, they are a significant step toward a more sustainable future.”

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