WEB EXCLUSIVE: One of two recent developments in polycarbonate films allows cost-effective integration of antennas into cell phones via printed electronics and film insert molding (FIM), also known as in-mold decorating (IMD). Bayer MateriaScience AG in Germany (U.S. office in Pittsburgh) has applied for a patent on a method of using printed electronics on PC films, which are then back-molded into cell-phone housings. The films are very thin and easily accommodated into small phones, and the method is reportedly less expensive than electroplating of antennas or other circuitry onto plastics. Bayer is working to develop this technology with global telecom molder Molex, based in Lisle, Ill., and thermoforming machinery and tooling maker Niebling-Junior in Germany.
Another new development from Bayer in FIM for electronic components is the expansion of its Makrofol HF range of PC films. The films have a scratch-proof surface with a deep-gloss finish (“piano effect”). The procured coating is stretchable and allows forming and subsequent final cure with UV light before back-injection molding. At least 1H pencil hardness is achievable. The High Pressure Forming (HPF) process is a cold-forming method using high-pressure air, which allows accurate registration of the printing. HPF allows forming of small radii and high draw depths.