LEONHARD KURZ and Marquardt present innovative HMI panels for household appliances
Fürth/Germany, November 9, 2023: Our homes are changing, becoming smarter and more connected. The new technologies, which are being introduced in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, enable easy and intuitive operation of the various appliances and at the same time open up completely new possibilities in terms of design. After all, design not only plays a central role in furniture today but also has a significant influence on decisions when it comes to buying household appliances.
The expert for functional and decorative surfaces, LEONHARD KURZ, has joined forces with mechatronics specialist Marquardt and KURZ subsidiary PolyIC, an expert in the manufacture of touch sensors and printed electronics, to demonstrate that white goods no longer have to be white or monotonous. The three companies have pooled their expertise and are demonstrating new ways of designing surfaces using two demonstration devices for washing machine control panels in two variants and decors.
Surfaces come to life when touched
The first demonstrator variant, a Human-Machine Interface panel (HMI panel) in 16:9 format with TFT display, impresses at first glance with its smooth, closed black surface. Thanks to Shy Tech design and backlighting, the front only comes to life when touched or approached. This makes the icons that allow you to control the individual functions visible. The integrated touchscreen sensor from KURZ subsidiary PolyIC enables operation via touch. As soon as the device is switched off, the icons and displays disappear again, so that only the smooth surface known as a ‘dead front’ is visible again. “We plan to produce the control panels using the efficient In-Mold Decoration process - IMD for short,” explains Nick Wagner, Head of Business Area Plastic Decoration Sales and Marketing at KURZ and continues: “This means that we can produce the component in just one highly efficient step, finish it, and integrate sensors through various processes. The advantages are plain to see. For one, the process saves time and energy. On the other hand, it can be used to implement individual, customer-specific motifs. We want to show the range of possibilities with our demonstrating devices at trade fairs and other events, for example.”
A special highlight is that Near Field Communication (NFC) allows you to call up previously saved adjustment settings and profiles in fractions of a second. “This technology could be used in all fields where several people share a washing machine, such as apartment buildings or student residences,” explains Alexander Resner, Product Manager at Marquardt, adding: “Thanks to the integrated sensors, the concept also meets the market demand for smart controls that are as easy and intuitive to use as a mobile phone.”
New freedom of design and a high degree of customization
The second demonstrating device from KURZ, Marquardt, and PolyIC also makes it clear that washing machines, dryers, and the like are much more than just household appliances these days with their individual appearance. The control panel in the second variant stands out with its striking wood look. It is also equipped with a round display integrated into the switch surface in addition to Shy Tech functionality. A PolyIC touch sensor was installed here to control the integrated function keys and sliders. They are complemented by a haptic push-turn control from Marquardt, which contributes to intuitive operation and also serves as a targeted stylistic element. “We also see backlit touch buttons on the panel as well as the KURZ and Marquardt logos, which can also be backlit,” explains Nick Wagner from KURZ. “They are a good example of the high degree of customization that our finishing processes make possible. We can use IMD to apply logos and patterns as well as customer-specific artwork, quickly and efficiently.”
Alexander Resner from Marquardt highlights another special feature of the panel surface: “The IMD technology used creates an experience for all the senses. While the eye-catching wood look attracts attention, the demonstrating device impresses when touched with its unique, memorable feel. Other variations are also possible, which can be customized through the targeted use of light, backlighting, and color. We are delighted that with KURZ we have gained a partner with in-depth expertise in the field of surface finishing and the fusion of technology and design.”