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Podcast: Erika Rebrosova of Sun Chemical on Human Machine Interfaces

Podcast: Erika Rebrosova of Sun Chemical | Tapecon

In our 8th episode of the podcast, we spoke with Erika Rebrosova, the Global Technology Manager at Sun Chemical. Erika joined us to talk about all things human machine interface (HMI), including printed electronics, a broad overview of what HMI is and how advancements in capacitive switches are changing the face of many industries.

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Conversation Overview

  • Erika Rebrosova fell in love with the lab setting when she would visit her mother’s place of employment in a QC lab for Pepsi. Today, she still loves her work as the Global Technology Manager for Sun Chemical.
  • Erika has been with Sun Chemical for 9 years, having spent years prior to that in academia, where she first became interested in flexible and printed electronic applications. 
  • Erika started as a scientist at Sun and currently manages research and development for electronic materials division, developing materials, technology, and solutions for multiple applications.
  • Printed electronics are a great choice for anyone looking for circuits with lower power and lower complexity because they are cost-efficient and have a lower environmental impact than copper circuits in many applications.
  • Printed switch applications can include heaters, censors, electroluminescence, and glucose & biosensors. 
  • There is currently a lot of growth with health care applications using printed electronics as they can print on multiple surfaces. Additionally, the additive processing makes them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 
  • Human machine interface (HMI) is actually a broad spectrum of devices. Conceptually, it’s anything that enables humans to interact with a machine or control a machine.
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  • Capacitive touch switches (cap switches) are widely used in appliances or industrial control systems. 
  • With these cap-printed switches, there is minimal pressure requirement, and they are highly responsive.
  • Transparent cap switches are beneficial because of their elegance, seamless overlay, can be easily cleaned, and offer unique backlighting solutions.
  • The automotive industry is currently showing more adaptation for cap switches in the interior of vehicles transitioning from buttons to printed cap switches. 
  • These switches allow for more design options to keep up with consumer demand for uniqueness and the highly sought-after “cool factor.”
  • A product manager in any industry is going to have a wide variety of HMI options. 
  • When making decisions, product managers need to keep in mind some design considerations such as: How risk-averse is the industry? What type of switch will work best for your specific application? What is the size of your product? How many buttons, wheels, or sliders do you have in the control panel?
  • There are endless possibilities of designs and integrations, but from a materials standpoint, look at the size and how many buttons you have because it will determine how fine you need to print and how dense, or how many layers, your circuit will need.
  • In the field of transparent cap switches, a lot of development is going on. 
  • Currently, there continue to be advancements in capacitive touch technologies and hardware to work in a variety of environments. It all really comes down to preference.
  • Cap switches are beneficial since they contain no moving parts that will fatigue, and continuing advancements enable designers to create surfaces that are resistant to harsh chemicals, are antibacterial, or are antiviral.

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