At the recent IMDCON (In-Mold Decorating Conference), attendees heard much about advances in this technology. It was mentioned that perhaps the terminology for IMD should be changed to in-mold durables, given that much of what is called decorating has moved into what Marshall Paterson, Vice President, New Technology/Global Development Manager, Advanced Decorative Systems (ADS; Millington, MI ), calls the "third dimension."
One of the vertically integrated manufacturing processes in which ADS specializes is 2D and 3D IMD for plastic components used primarily in the automotive industry. These include instrument clusters, HVAC controls, audio system bezels and switching components. The company also works in other segments. "The medical industry is a big user of IMD because of the perception of cleanliness," said Paterson. "It looks clean and is easy to clean, and we're doing some work with the electronics industry."
"Touch controls have become much more acceptable in the marketplace since the advent of the iPhone," said Paterson. "People are more open to interacting with touch screens, but they are perfectly flat; what we call 2D. We've spent years here at ADS making 3D products—the third dimension, which is not flat and boring. We are also adding a new dimension in terms of functionality."