Leading automakers reduce costs and increase energy efficiency with Q-Prime® flexible circuits
Today’s automakers are increasingly focused on providing energy-efficient, aesthetically appealing vehicles for consumers. Their widespread adoption of LED lighting saves energy and lends vehicles a luxury look. Flex engineers saw an opportunity to optimize LED solutions for its customers — the automotive industry — by making the flexible circuit technology lighter, simplifying the design and reducing costs.
The material science and interconnect product development teams at Flex’s subsidiary Multek pushed the boundaries of electrical, thermal and mechanical requirements for LEDs. The result was Q-Prime, a circuit with a proprietary thermally conductive adhesive and a thin composite structure. This LED lighting solution enables:
- Lower component operating temperatures via its design of copper on one side and aluminum on the other side, which disperses heat faster
- Significant weight reduction with aluminum that is 90% thinner than previous solutions
- Cost reduction by eliminating tools in the manufacturing process
- Flexibility for processing, yet sufficient rigidity to hold shape when bent
Multek’s benchmarking demonstrated that Q-Prime would result in 74% fewer components, 40% less weight and 30% lower costs compared to an OEM rear lighting component*. In 2015, the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators recognized Q-Prime with a Technical Excellence Award.
Redesigning LED to increase automakers’ ROI
In the auto industry, style matters. An innovative and visionary element is an attractive selling point only if it offers performance to match. Automakers are increasingly using energy-efficient LED lighting in designs, from taillights to instrument panels. Flex engineers saw an opportunity to develop a more cost-effective LED lighting solution with a simplified design that could dissipate heat more efficiently and better suit the desired vehicle design. They provided a Sketch-to-Scale™ solution for LED circuits, giving automakers more flexibility, a lighter product and a more versatile lighting solution.
Multek Flexible Circuits Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Flex, is an industry leader in manufacturing single- and double-sided flexible printed circuits using roll-to-roll technology. The factory processes 15 to 20 million square feet of product annually. Multek is the largest producer of flexible interconnects in the U.S.
Accelerating time to market for breakthrough ideas
Grabit partnered with the Lab IX® startup incubator to accelerate time to market for its patented electroadhesion technology. The team worked with Flex’s electrostatic discharge experts at the Product Innovation Center in Austin, Texas, where they performed testing and characterization of the grippers to reveal potential issues — ultimately demonstrating that the technology could offer a flexible, energy-saving way to handle delicate and hard-to-grasp items.
“Flex brings a wealth of manufacturing experience and supply chain solutions expertise to support our growth.”
—Charlie Duncheon, former CEO and co-founder of Grabit Inc.
Validating findings and making business connections
After testing, Grabit and Flex co-developed a white paper to show prospective customers how the grippers would excel in a variety of conditions affected by temperature, humidity and other factors. Flex’s team leveraged its cross-industry partnerships to make key introductions between Grabit and leading companies with specialty manufacturing and warehousing needs.
Today, Grabit is poised to fundamentally change factory and warehouse automation with its cost- and energy-saving technology.
Learn more about how companies partner with Flex to create and deliver products that disrupt industries.