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Crush on Glass

Every day we work on new ideas, technologies and processes to give our customers crucial competitive advantages. That is one meaning of “crush on glass”. However, this phrase can also be understood as an unintrusive way of motivating all designers, engineers and developers to join us on a journey of discovery into the world of this fascinating, sustainable and environmentally friendly material.

IMPAeGlass – Printed electronics and glass

In order to give glass electrical functionality, we mainly use inorganic, ceramic lacquer systems. These are printed on an optical as well as electrical barrier layer on the back of the tempered glass substrates and are not visible from the front.

The electronic layout is applied by screen or digital printing. We produce the corresponding films or designs in-house using high-resolution digital imaging systems.

In the tempering process, the individual functional layers form a permanent, non-detachable bond with the carrier glass – they are enameled. Delamination is technically impossible.

The electronically functionalized glass with its printed circuit is then assembled conventionally.

Structure widths of up to 80 µm (fine pitch) can be achieved in series production. Common microcontrollers with QFN (or MLF), SOP or SSOP packages can be processed without any problems.

LED light without a circuit board. All electronics, including voltage converter, are mounted directly on the glass.

Chip on Glass

As a standard, we use 32-bit PSoCs from Cypress. Especially important for us: the analog and digital functions are easy to configure and the IOs can be freely assigned to the pins. The latter helps us to separate layout- and function development and thus to parallelize them by using agile engineering.

With CapSense, these PSoCs also offer ingenious possibilities to implement keys, one-dimensional sliders or two-dimensional input fields (touchpads).

Thanks to their computing power (up to ARM Cortex-M3) as well as the configurable function blocks, our controllers can take over all tasks that occur in small electrical appliances, medical equipment or intelligent measuring devices. There is no need for any additional circuit board – all electronics for HMI, display, device control, coupling of sensors or WLAN connectivity… are located on the glass.

Another field of application is high temperature or high frequency applications. Glass – with its HTCC- and LTCC-like properties – is an ideal substrate for these applications.

The PSoCs we use have enough calculating power to read sensor signals, process data and provide connectivity. In addition, they save you the expense of additional electronics in the device.

SbG – Systems behind glass

From the front: Attractive design and the incomparable haptic of a high-quality material. On the back not only a powerful system on a chip. But also, the mounting solution individually tailored to your product with cover frame, light guides, ESD protection, mounting options, adhesive points, potting…

With our “Systems behind glass” we turn many individual parts into one ready-to-install assembly. Saving you material, assembly and process costs. Reducing delivery times, potential sources of error, and supply chain risks. Interfaces between humans and machines, i.e. HMIs, are only one aspect to see what our system technology can achieve.

Would a micro lab with in-depth analysis functions and wireless communication be of interest to you? Functionalization on the smallest glass surfaces? Creating channels, cavities, reaction chambers, etc. is no problem for our laser processing, nor is light protection for our screen printing. Also, on the glass: the electronics to conflate and evaluate the physical, chemical or optical data measured. With wireless connection or only good/bad display, with touch display, or without. With battery. Or with energy harvester…

Only the laws of physics or chemistry set limits to your creativity!

One of our first digital control panels for bath and shower. With two microcontrollers, programmable presets, safety lock, IP69K…

Platforms ready-to-use

Applying our broad portfolio of ready-to-use engineering platforms we translate your ideas and visions into products with a wow-effect, into eye-catchers with unique selling points that can hardly be copied. Developed with craftsmanship and perfection, implemented in industrial processes and extensively protected by industrial property rights. It is unlikely that you will even find parts of anywhere else in the world.

Take your time to familiarize yourself with our engineering platforms – or simply contact us. We advise and support you from the very start – committed only to your application and its best possible implementation.

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The central control unit of training equipment – resistant to water and sweat. Multi-color displays and Bluetooth communication with your personal fitness app…

How to get your prototype

Laser structuring and digital printing not only ensure that low to hardly any tool costs are incurred in the development phase, but also that your ideas are quickly transformed into a hands-on prototype. Or several. Or a small series that you can make available to your top customers for testing, so they can conduct usability tests and gain application experience before market launch. No matter what your roadmap looks like – rely on our experience and the active support of our specialists from the very beginning.

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Front and – rotated by 90° – the back of an attractive and durable time recording terminal.

The IMPA-Story

All our technology platforms start with the four letters IMPA. These do not stand for “industrial maximum process availability” and not for “Irlbacher makes perfect applications”. They are simply the first four letters of the English word IMPAct. This is because all these engineering platforms are based on tempered glass – in other words, “impact-resistant glass”.

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Glass and ceramic 3D printing in perfect symbiosis: The admaflex 130 from ADMATEC is a real eye-catcher. Its glass front is safe – thanks to Irlbacher IMPA technology. Foto © Admatec Europe

The IMPAtouch Story

Touch displays are a great thing – if you can keep the installation space to a minimum, and shield it well against external interference, as is the case with smartphones. Kitchen stoves, shower taps, or industrial controls are a different matter. We have tried many things to prevent maloperation. Keeping the length of conductors to an absolute minimum. Shielded cables. Electronics laminated to the back. Large ground planes. Low impedance… None of this worked really well.

Until someone came up with the idea: “Let’s assemble the electronics directly on the glass. Then we’ll have the shortest possible signal lines. At the end of the day, this can’t be any more costly than all these tricks. The euphoria quickly gave way to disillusionment with the initial research: such a thing was nowhere described, and even the specialists in microsystems technology shrugged their shoulders. They had never heard of it before. “Try it” was the most common answer.

And we did. After countless trials and setbacks, we found the materials that matched our existing production steps. Developed the processes and the process knowledge we needed to be able to run industrial series production for electronics. Built staff – and development capacities. For years, we took full risk – as probably only family businesses do, that believe in the long-term success of their ideas.

But the success of IMPAtouch proved us right from the beginning: Already the first assembly was a real challenge. Quite complex and anything but a walk in the park. But it is still manufactured today, over a decade later.

The front panel of a bean-to-cup coffee machine for the hospitality industry, with IMPAtouch and IMPAsense, IMPAled and IMPAfeel…
and the fully assembled rear panel, with mounting frame, LED covers, encapsulated electronics, coded connectors …