By Leo Valiquette
CPES2016, Canada’s Printable, Flexible and Wearable Electronics Symposium, marked another milestone for the Canadian industry last month. Two companies were singled out for their achievements in product innovation and commercialization, to take home the first ever CPES Innovation Awards.
But who are these two companies? Let’s take a closer look.
The winner of the CPES2016 Product Innovation Award was CPEIA member Myant & Co., for its latest breakthrough to integrate technology into textiles.
Less than two months ago, Myant released Vagalume — the ultimate collection of stylish athletic apparel that enhances visibility for safety at night, using electroluminescent technology.
Vagalume means “firefly” in Portugese. Conventional reflective technology relies on an external light source to be visible. Vagalume emits its own light which is visible under any conditions and from any angle.
Functional enough to light up when you want it to, Vagalume is as thin as paper, as flexible as fabric and machine washable. Myant plugs the product as giving active people the ultimate combination of style and function to light up the night.
To bring such innovative new products to market and overcome the challenges of an emerging industry fractured across traditional silos, Myant has created its own ecosystem under one roof.
Functional textiles and custom wearables straddle traditional apparel manufacturing, micro-electronics manufacturing, and the emerging disciplines of printable and flexible electronics. Myant’s team includes entrepreneurs, industrial designers, fashion designers, graphic designers, computer engineers, electrical engineers, chemists, physicists, kinesiologists and doctors.
“We believe that the functionalization of fibres is the future of textiles,” said Myant CEO Tony Chahine. “We are surrounded by textiles in our everyday environment. It’s what we wear, what we sit on, and what we wrap ourselves in at night. Now, imagine fabrics that can not only sense, hear and collect data, but can communicate and actuate by providing heating, cooling and shape change. Intelligent textiles transform basic cloth into advanced technology. Myant has created a platform to create, develop and build an ecosystem of functionalized textiles that will improve the way we live.”
The winner of the CPES2016 Commercialization Award was CPEIA member Memtronik Innovations.
We can’t get deep into the details of this project due to an NDA, but here’s the bird’s eye view: In the space of a month, Memtronik implemented a novel concept in capacitive touch and illuminated displays for a top provider to the consumer market for global brand owners and retailers.
Memtronik used its unique expertise with human-machine interfaces, integrated electronics precision printing with DuPont materials, and surface mount assembly capabilities, to develop and ship innovative prototypes within days.
These integrated printed circuits combine multiple functions with capacitive sensors, conductive adhesive, and controlled LED lighting, for use in 3D demo displays.
Memtronik expects this project will lead to volume orders in a new multi-million-dollar market, orders it will be able to fill quickly and locally from its manufacturing and R&D operations in the Montreal area.
The 22-year-old company has a team of 60 experts who work on the cutting edge of membrane switch, graphic overlay and electroluminescent lamp technologies. These are printable electronics components that have been around for years, in everything from calculators and television remotes, to the control panels on household appliances.
Here’s a great segment from the television show “How It’s Made” that gives a behind-the-scenes look at Memtronik’s manufacturing operations, which lead the industry for automation and productivity in North America.
“Memtronik Innovations is very excited to have received the CPES2016 Commercialization Award said Jessica Forget, Vice-President. “New technology allows for a broad range of innovation in printed electronics, including stretchable circuits, capacitive touch, illumination and near-field communication – to name a few.
“Memtronik is investing in all of these capabilities, and the recognition from the CPEIA has led to new business relationships from participants at the CPES 2016 show and elsewhere. Customers are surprised and pleased to find the know-how and capacity Memtronik offers right here in Canada and this spurs further investment on our part. The future of printed electronics is very exciting and holds great promise.”