Printed Sensors for Automotive

The automotive industry is facing great challenges due to the changing ecological and passenger-related requirements. While customers want to be pampered with luxurious functions on the one hand, fuel consumption and the ecological footprint are to be reduced at the same time. With its flexible printed sensors and support from consulting through to industrial production of your individual solution, InnovationLab offers a way to address these challenges - for a comfortable, safe and sustainable future.

Why Printed Sensors Provide the Leading Edge

The flexible, printed sensors can be processed on ultra-thin and also flexible substrates, with virtually any layout, so that they can be integrated in a wide variety of locations with a wide range of requirements. For instance, if the sensors are printed on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) no disturbing noises are generated, even when they are bent or stretched - for example, when sitting down on them. In this context, the advantage that the sensors are only micrometer thick also comes into its own.

Our portfolio includes pressure sensors, temperature and capacitive sensors as well as flexible, flat heating or lighting elements, which can be produced cost-effectively and in an industrial manner through our additive manufacturing process. What would be better suited to revolutionize the automotive industry?

What Applications In Automotive Are Conceivable?

The integration of the pressure sensor foils in car seats, for example, enables the differentiation between people and other objects my means of artificial intelligence and pattern recognition. This information about the driver's presence forms the basis for various driver assistance and safety systems such as seat-belt reminders and emergency call systems in the event of an accident. In particular, planar pressure sensors could determine whether the object in the passenger seat is a child seat and, if so, automatically deactivate the airbag. Feedback on an ergonomic seating position is also possible and can contribute to a better health, especially when driving frequently or over long distances.

Furthermore, printed heating elements can act as local heating systems and be used for individual, energy-saving temperature adjustment. They heat up quickly and over a large area to the desired temperature. Due to their physical structure, overheating beyond the defined target temperature is not possible. Further advantages arise when printed "cables" are used for the connections instead of conventional ones. A great potential for saving weight and thus fuel or rather energy consumption becomes apparent. An integration of control elements in the steering wheel and other parts of the car as well as touch and proximity sensors can further support the operation. Printed LED systems can also be installed in vehicles and open up completely new dimensions in functional or design lighting.

Printed sensors are also particularly important in respect to e-mobility. During the charge and discharge cycle process, a rechargeable cell constantly changes its volume - it "breathes". If a pressure sensor foil is integrated into a battery pack, breathing can be followed in real-time. This way, individual control measures can be initiated, for example, with regard to cell balancing or potential overcharging, and thus, achieving a considerable extension of the battery life.

Additional data on the temperature distribution within battery packs holds further potential for improving battery management and reducing risks.