Why do you need printed circuit boards when you can also print electronics on glass? The Irlbacher Group has been processing special glass for various industries for over 80 years. With its patented Impatouch technology, the Schönsee-based company demonstrates in a variety of applications that the back of the glass can be used as a circuit carrier and that the electronics can be mounted directly on the glass
The family-run Irlbacher group of companies, founded in 1935 in Schönsee, Upper Palatinate
, is today a global specialist in glass technology.
On ten hectares, more than 600 employees process more than 50 types of glass to the highest precision - for hygienic HMIs, noble interior and exteriorand outdoor lighting, stylish fireplaces, aesthetic building technology, functional sanitary objects, or with micrometer precision for the process industry. The company, with an export quota of over 40 percent, delivers to over 50 countries worldwide. Irlbacher has long since developed into a solution provider for complex, glass-based assemblies. The basis for this is the company's own modular solution kit, consisting of a dozen sophisticated technology platforms.
From glass supplier to electronics on glass
The company's own electronics development started in October 2007. An in-house team of eight people in the areas of hardware and software development as well as circuit layout, headed by Andreas Bodensteiner, is creating the "glass electronics" of tomorrow, because the substrate is complex.
The company has long since evolved from a supplier of glass parts to a provider of system solutions.
Günther Irlbacher, 4th generation managing director is bubbling over with ideas: "Front panels made of glass simply look classy, are more scratch-resistant than Plexiglas and stand for high value.
But behind the front panel, things used to get complicated: sensors had to be attached and wired, an additional circuit board for signal processing required a mounting solution, and EMC protection was not exactly unproblematic."Irlbacher proves with its Impatouch product line that it is much simpler, less expensive and also more environmentally friendly: Sensors and conductors are printed directly on the glass - the circuit board is not required and EMC problems on touch sensor cables do not even occur due to the principle.
The glass becomes a circuit board
The process is actually quite simple.
The glass as a design element also serves as a carrier material for all electronic components. Capacitive sensor elements and conductor paths are screen-printed directly onto the back of the Impatouch glass front panel, turning the glass itself into a circuit board. Since the conductive tracks are located behind the design layer, they are not visible from the outside
. The printed conductors and design layer are then baked on, turning the glass into toughened safety glass.