When switches become history: Printed electronics in the white goods sector

Household appliances also benefit from the ever-increasing possibilities offered by printed electronics—for example, in the form of spectacularly designed control elements where component and electronic functionalities form one single unit.

As in the automobile sector, more and more buttons and switches will disappear from household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. Instead, films with printed electronic sensors integrated directly during manufacture of the respective plastic component, enable operation by a simple touch of the touchscreen. Thanks to this so-called in-mold production process, even curved or specially shaped geometries no longer present any problem and country-specific variants can be produced quickly and easily.

Visually, the control panel thus presents itself as a uniformly flat surface that appears even more as a design element. In addition, the integrated production of components and operator functionalities also stands for above-average durability and stability. Moreover, companies benefit from comparatively low production costs.

Further product differentiation is offered by appearances, colors and lighting states of control elements and touchscreens that can be selected according to the time of day or personal mood and can be changed by specific movements or gestures.

Printed electronics allows more emphasis on front components whose control functionalities become visible only at the touch of a finger. This activates integrated lighting, while the device otherwise appears as a visibly uniform monolith.