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Automotive & 3D Smart Surface
Intelligent, electronics driven, Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) or smart surfaces are at the forefront of modern control and display design.
In automotive interiors, drivers and passengers expect an experience equal or superior to that of the rest of their world - meaning large high-definition displays, touch screens, capacitive touch sensors, and glossy sleek surfaces are amongst the features being sought.

However, increased content in the interior is countered by a desire for reduced assembly complexity, and lighter components and systems. MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions brings together all their expertise in both automotive films and electronic materials to offer a comprehensive materials stack combined with in depth XMAPP design and manufacturing technology support.

With XtraForm material technologies and XMAPP design and process support from one supplier, MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions enables smart surface manufacturers to create and manufacture next-generation intelligent structures quickly and reliably.
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Capacitive Touch Surfaces
Smart surfaces based on capacitive touch controls and flexible and formable hardcoated films offer a highly robust, intuitive and interactive experience at the human-machine interface (HMI).
When the capacitive sensing circuit is protected by a hardcoated film such as Autotex or Autoflex then features such as secret-til lit, backlighting and embossed finger location ridges make the user experience clear and accurate. The hardcoated film is printed on the underside and that decoration remains bright and distinct even after years of regular use and cleaning.
In this way, film based capacitive touch HMI are found in a wide variety of applications ranging from domestic appliances through electric vehicle (EV) charger controls to industrial controls - anywhere that precise, attractive and durable control is desired. Capacitive touch controls have the added benefit of low power consumption, and a wide operating temperature range.
See also Autostat, a stabilized polyester film, is ideal for printing the circuit layer using a wide range of silver, carbon and dielectric inks.
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In-mold Electronics (IME)
In-mold electronics (IME) is a technology for smart surface structures that enables increased functionality and design choices, and also simplifies manufacturing processes and reduces the material content and weight of the final product.
In the automotive sector, electronics functionality has long been an integral part of interior design, and today's consumers expect further electronic content and capability within their vehicles, coupled with an attractive 3D cockpit and interior design. Simultaneously, sustainability requirements drive the desire to reduce materials, weight and manufacturing waste.
When all factors are considered together, it is clear that new technologies are required to enable the integration of more electronics into vehicles. In-mold electronics (IME) is a key part of this evolution. By integrating the electronics in-mold, lighter thinner parts with more complex styling can be produced.

Our XMAPP technology expertise, acquired through a long history of supplying films and electronic solutions into the automotive market, means we can provide in-depth IME design and manufacturing support services. XMAPP works across the supply chain to streamline part design and validation and optimize production yield to help deliver high-performance parts on time.
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Membrane Touch Switch (MTS)
Membrane touch switches (MTS) are the backbone of commercial, domestic, industrial and medical equipment HMI where clear graphics, tactile feedback and durability are key.
MTS technology is used to provide end users with visually precise and attractive graphics together with the all-important positive feel of a switch and a sealed, highly durable surface. A well-designed MTS will maintain these optical and haptic features, including switch life in excess of 5 million operations, even when subject to daily use and a vigorous cleaning regime.

Polyester is the most popular film used in the construction of membrane switches due to its durability and high temperature properties.
Autostat is a range of heat stabilized polyester films which offer high stability specification and are designed to be screen printed with conductive, graphite and dielectric inks.
The hardcoated Autotex and Autoflex films have been designed specifically for the graphics overlay film on membrane switches. Both product ranges are embossable, second surface printable and solvent, chemical and scratch resistant on the first surface.
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Outdoor Equipment HMI
Outdoor equipment such as electric vehicle (EV) chargers, garden tools and access controls require their HMI to be visually very clear and have long life, even when subject to extremes of weather.
Sunlight (especially ultraviolet light), and wide variations in temperature and humidity can effect conventional hardcoated films, causing them to delaminate, become brittle or flake under extended outdoor conditions. We offer solutions especially designed to protect the surface and the underlying graphic layers, keeping graphics bright and the surface sooth and flexible. Features such as raised finger location ridges or raised membrane touch switches remain intact and functional for the life of the product.
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Medical & Antimicrobial HMI
For the medical human-machine interface (HMI), Autoflex and Autotex hardcoated films offer exceptional resistance to damage from abrasion and cleaning, even with common healthcare disinfectants. The controls, displays and other touch surfaces of diagnostic, monitoring and patient comfort equipment remain clear, bright and intact - even after the repeated deep cleaning of a healthcare environment.
In addition, the Autotex AM range of harcoated films feature built-in anti-microbial (AM) technology to further protect the surface by reducing the microbial load between cleans. The embedded anti-microbial keeps working even after repeated disinfection and if the surface is scratched.
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Automotive Displays
Displays form a key part of the automotive human machine interface (HMI).
From advanced instrument cluster displays and digital mirrors, to center stack touchscreens and rear seat entertainment displays, the demand for interactive display technology is increasing. Traditional displays have been flat and predominately rectangular or circular for cover lenses. New designs are freeform, requiring curved surfaces, complex shapes, larger display areas and integrated functionality.
At MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, we produce a range of films that allow seamless integration of these features. Our state-of-the-art integrated technology allows you the design freedom to create parts which seamlessly integrate optical grade 3D formable films into a wide range of display applications. When combined with our product offering for IME, this makes MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions a single point of information for a wide range of technologies in a display stack.
Our extensive knowledge of part design and manufacturing processes, delivered by our XMAPP technology program will help you get your design right first time, reducing development time and costs.
Would you like to know more?
Contact a smart surface specialist for information and advice.