The Behind-the-Scenes

Buttons. Keyboards. Touch Pads. We spend so much of our life interacting with machines that we rarely stop to notice how the interaction is taking place. You may push an on/off switch to start the photocopier. You may punch a sequence of keys at your ATM to get cash. But did you ever stop to think what is allowing you to communicate your desires to the machine?

Printec, a Fullerton, CA-based manufacturer, thinks about little else. They are a global leader in the field of HMI (Human Machine Interface) technology. Via their worldwide network, they design keypads, touch panels, membrane switches or any other variety of interface devices. Printec products are printed to your exact specifications, with options such as backlighting or custom color. Their manufacturing setup is designed to handle prototyping and quick turnaround.

One industry where Printec has seen tremendous growth is the medical industry. As more and more of our medical technology is going electronic, there has been a spike in demand for user-friendly interfaces that allow the doctor or nurse to interact with a piece of equipment designed to be applied, inserted or implanted in a patient. Printec is one of the few HMI manufacturers with an ISO 13485 medical QMS and manufacturing certification.

Medical manufacturing has a lot of “one-time use only” disposable machines, like diabetes test strips, digital thermometers, and sensors. Many of Printec’s membrane products are at a low price point, which makes them amenable for use in disposable medical devices.

As our world becomes increasingly managed by machines, it is the businesses like Printec that will design how we govern the machines themselves. The five basic types of HMI devices that Printec manufactures are membrane switches, flexible printed circuits, soft rubber keypads, touch screens, and hard plastics. Each type has an esthetic and industrial application that greatly affects the look and feel of a new product.

Another important esthetic factor for switches is choices like color or backlighting. If you are creating a tool that may be used in the dark, backlighting is critical, but it can be an esthetic choice to indicate the machine is switched on, too. The only limit is the imagination of the industrial designer. Colors are part of Printec’s Color Management System of design choices as well – whether it is the color of a keypad, the color of the housing for the keypad, or even the color of the wires running to and from the device. Printec has in-house designers, but they work to specification as well, giving the HMI customer full control over the design as needed.

Printec’s technology is used in Medicine, Appliances, Fitness, Security, Automotive, and Industrial settings. The next time you punch a button or tap a key, you may be tapping a device manufactured by Printec. Does your treadmill need to go a little faster? Printec may be the manufacturer behind the scenes who ensures that you can tell it to speed up. Did you lock your house using a digital lock? Printec may be the folks who let you key in the right combination to come home. HMI is everywhere, and Printec is leading the pack in this important field.

PRINTEC is a manufacturing source for many other HMI providers in the US and worldwide – and because of PRINTEC’s excellent status and name recognition in the industry, some have used its name in their own branding and marketing efforts. But only one company in the US is officially part of the Printec Global family and still proudly bears its name – PRINTEC.

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