Dr. Roland Kuepfer, president and CEO of Multiple Dimensions, explains why the toy industry should embrace 3D molded interconnect device technology.
The advantages of the 3D-MID (Molded Interconnect Device) technology are well known in high volume cellular phones antennas and it is also showing market penetration in the automotive, watches, medical and consumer electronics industries.
But what about the toy industry?
In the toy industry, strategic merchandising relationships, like with Disney’s Frozen, are common. Cost competition and the fight for distinctive designs and shelf space are also dominating the toy business.
Today, the horizontal expansion with merchandising, diverse toy themes, and new business models has been increasingly in the foreground.
Despite such innovations, the actual electrification of toys is still realised in a very traditional way: one or more simple printed circuit boards, a lot of wires, soldering points, glued-on components, screws, and complex tools for the plastic injection molding process.
The result of using yesterday’s approach means lots handwork in the assembly stage of the toys, significant quality costs due to the variety of production steps, and high expenses in logistics. A true total cost analysis confirms the sum of expenses. Time-to-market and product launch risks also emerge as tier suppliers must hire enough trained staff to be ready with toys for delivery in quantity and quality for Christmas sales.
Why not solve challenges with vertical integration of the production process?
The 3D-MID solution: Plastic meets electronics.
The electronic circuits and every component including LEDs, motors, and battery holders is directly connected to the plastic of your toy. The outward form of the toy remains free for the designer to envision. The limitations of traditional two-dimensionsal printed circuit boards are eliminated, as are the assembly steps to fix these PCB somewhere within the toy.
The smart electrification of circuits on plastic gives toy manufacturers advantages to design modules, even compact internal modules, for modularity in different figures, cars, boats, robots etc. to illuminate, to drive, or to control via antenna communication. Easy fixation and labeling are further benefits of 3D-MID technology.
Imagine your toy helicopter rotor turning easily in a more modular and compact direct drive unit, your princess has all communication functions on just one simple MID device within her body or your precision LED control device creatively lights up trains to delight enthusiasts.