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How fashion and function are aligning in wearables

( 09/16/2016 ) Written by: Eric Dean

by Eric Dean, Manager, Global Business Development and Marketing Strategy at LORD Corporation

In the wearables/personal electronic devices space, the fashion vs. function issue has become increasingly more important. A big, bulky electronic watch might be quite functional with myriad features, however, some may lack the desired aesthetic quality.

The use of a wide variety of materials is becoming increasingly necessary as designers try to make these small, “wearable computers” physically attractive, yet functional.

The use of a wide variety of materials is becoming increasingly necessary as designers try to make these small, “wearable computers” physically attractive, yet functional.

It’s like the sensible shoes debate. A pair of sturdy, quality shoes achieve their function, but they may lack that pizzazz – the fashionable look wanted. Although the same could be said of some wearable electronics, this is changing.

High-end fashion brands have partnered with wearables for a mix of fashion and function. There has been a great deal of focus on making electronics lighter and thinner without sacrificing utility. Now, consumers don’t have to necessarily choose between fashion and function as the two become intertwined with new technology and assembly processes.

The use of a wide variety of materials is becoming increasingly necessary as designers try to make these small, “wearable computers” physically attractive, yet functional.

Take, for example, the integration of curves into a design. They can easily be added, but clips, screws or structural adhesives must be used and on curved surfaces the assembly is tricky. Clips and screws take up physical space and limit the kind of designs that can be created because of the space needed to accommodate the attachment features. Use of simply overmolding also limits the types of metals and plastics that can be used.

IMB Adhesives can easily be applied to curved surfaces in batch processes and with film thicknesses of just 50 microns, it takes up practically no space in the final design. The final assemblies, curved or not, benefit from the fact that the tolerance stack up is as good as the mold itself.IMB Adhesives, however, are a significant enabling technology for wearables/personal electronic devices because it allows use of non-compatible materials such as bonding amorphous plastic to crystalline plastic, either type of plastic to metals/glass or even liquid silicone rubber to a variety of rigid substrates.

The abilities IMB Adhesives enable with plastic, liquid silicone rubber, glass and metals is pretty revolutionary and quite unique. Using this technology may help make cell phones and wearables thinner and more appealing to people who don’t like the bulk of today.

Learn more about IMB and how it can help with your design at www.lord.com/IMB.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR MORE BY THIS AUTHOR

Eric Dean is Manager of Global Business Development and Marketing Strategy at LORD Corporation with expertise in industries including industrial, automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer electronics and medical devices. Dean currently leads the LORD Consumer Electronics business segment including the LORD In-Mold Bonding (IMB) Adhesives. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School.

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