ACL TechnoSwitch is a Belgian SME, employing 19 people, founded in 1985. Its business is the design, manufacturing and sales of membrane switch front-panels and keyboards. Its products have virtually no electronic content, so the company basically is a non-microelectronics company. It is selling its products to some 50 different Original Equipment Manufacturers.
The objectives of the AE was to improve its front-panel technology by integrating Electro-luminescent foils in the front-panels and by developing the required electronics, to actuate the Electro-luminescent foils.
The existing products are multi-layered front-panels with 4 to 8 layers, including membrane switches, interconnect layers (flexible printed circuit boards) and Electro-luminescent foils.
The technology chosen was Printed Circuit Board, with discrete components. An important result of the project was the development of design guidelines, allowing its customers to integrate the controller-actuator in their own product. For high volume projects, the integration of the actuator-controller in a dedicated integrated circuit will be an economic solution.
The development of the controller-actuator, and the design guidelines, was important to broaden the customer base of front-panels, and keyboards, with integrated Electro-luminescent foils.
The development started November 22nd '97 and ended November 20th 98, a total duration of 12 months. The total duration was according to the original plan. The project was funded by FUSE, for a total of 52.2 kECU.
The payback period of the investment is calculated to 24 months, taking only into account additional sales of electro-luminescent displays and controller-actuators in the keyboards and front-panels. The return-on-investment is estimated at 239% over a period of 5 years. The payback period will be reduced to 20 and to 16 months, by targeting new market niches, such as advertising, road signs, and control and dashboard displays for cars, boats and trains.
The most important lesson was that the company could gain a lot by working together with subcontractors. The company's culture before this project was to do all developments in house. This project also has allowed the company strengthening its management and marketing. Before the company was mainly driven by technical expertise.
|You can also benefit from microelectronics
Microsystem technology provided ACL TechnoSwitch bvba with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.
FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.
FUSE provides you with:
- Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
- Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.
Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.