Electronic assemblies without PCBs – Electronic Products & TechnologyElectronic Products & Technology

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a unique good results tale. For just about 20 decades, it has been attainable to apply digital conductor paths right on to plastic pieces for the duration of collection manufacturing. LDS allows the generation of electronic assemblies with versatile geometric styles. This process permits electronic products and solutions (this sort of as intelligent telephones, sensors or health care gadgets) to develop into even scaled-down and far more impressive. Automatic manufacturing procedures also make this course of action more economically interesting.

There is less and a lot less place available for digital assemblies, so options are essential which change conventional printed circuit boards. LDS permits even further miniaturization and would make progressively sophisticated geometric styles feasible. This is a secure and reputable method that has established itself in high-quality-vital sectors these kinds of as health care know-how or basic safety-appropriate components for the automotive industry.

LDS course of action allows three-dimensional assemblies

Direct laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Built-in Products) assemblies to be produced. When applying 3D-MID, digital factors can be equipped instantly onto a three-dimensional base system, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The base physique is produced using an injection moulding process, whereby the thermoplastic materials has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The structure of the conductor path is utilized utilizing the LDS course of action.
LDS permits digital assemblies to be manufactured in adaptable geometric designs. Intelligent telephones, hearing aids and clever watches are getting to be lesser and far more powerful thanks to this method. Source: Harting

The additives in the materials are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic content can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the spots intended for the conductor paths and makes a micro-rough framework. The unveiled steel particles sort the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are used to the parts marked by the laser. The other parts of the 3-dimensional base system stay unchanged. The plastic part can then be assembled in standard SMD processes identical to a standard PCB. It is also ideal for soldering in a reflow oven.

Functional application of laser technologies

As a single of the major suppliers of 3D-MID parts outdoors of Asia, HARTING utilizes superior-general performance laser programs for the LDS approach, with three lasers doing work in parallel, just about every offset by 45 levels. Thanks to an added axis of rotation, components can be processed by the laser concurrently from all sides (360 degrees). This technological know-how allows adaptable geometric styles, these kinds of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be built. In spite of the small conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are however ideal for demanding automotive parts or for applications with currents up to 10 A – for case in point for heating coils in cameras which are employed to avoid the optics from fogging up

Minimum distances between the conductor paths (a): 50 – 150μm. Minimal width of the conductor paths (b): 50 – 150μm Radius (r): .2mm. Resource: Harting

Regular adjustments throughout the electronics growth phase or new factors with modified dimensions can lead to pricey changes all through conventional PCB creation. The laser format, in distinction, can be adapted very flexibly by using the parameters of the laser’s handle software. No improvements in the injection moulding are necessary for this.

The production of prototypes using LDS is also much easier when compared to common processes. HARTING can create the plastic base entire body making use of LDS-compatible materials and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be applied with inexpensive prototype resources.

New tendencies in the LDS process

Many facets of LDS technology have been enhanced and further more made about the past few a long time.

  • The functioning area of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, consequently enabling a greater packing density and the processing of even larger components.
  • The operating velocity of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which information the laser beam, thereby considerably minimizing the processing time.
  • The enhancement of the optics permits the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a great concentrate of 50 μm for processing even smaller sized constructions.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID producer in the globe that has a laser system with a few good focus optics of 50 μm. Even smaller sized conductor route gaps can be realized many thanks to this wonderful concentration laser. Thus, quite a few conductor paths can be created on the exact same element and a larger packing density can be implemented. This is utilized for safety technological know-how, amongst other items, due to the fact the closely spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering protection alarms from even the smallest bodily interference.

Advances in products and economics

Only specifically selected thermoplastics are qualified for the LDS method these are out there from stock. The procedure can be more enhanced with shopper-particular adjustments to the plastic materials:

  • HARTING utilizes a procedure which provides LDS additives to non-accredited resources to make them MID-appropriate.
  • Unique RAL or Pantone colors can be reached with MID plastics by using colour pigments and exclusive LDS additives.
  • By selecting suited additives, specific RF features can also be applied, dependent on the frequency variety.

Digital factors – these as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected immediately onto the ingredient carrier. The assembled component carriers can then be processed as typical SMD elements. Resource: Harting

To more strengthen the value-performance of the producing system, HARTING relies on automated robotic programs. The LDS laser method is equipped with a rotary indexing table so that a component can be inserted or taken off while a further component is even now being processed. The in-feed and unloading treatments are automatic by HARTING using robotics. This increases throughput and autonomy, while also enabling integration into automatic generation processes. An further automation phase is furnished throughout the injection moulding approach. Listed here, far too, a robot can take above the elimination of the injection moulded pieces. The use of robotics also increases the exact reproducibility of the procedures and, so, overall merchandise top quality.

Far more development for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps safeguard the electronics from unauthorized obtain both equally mechanically and electronically. A extremely specific meandering framework detects every single entry, no make a difference how smaller, and for that reason stops theft. Supply: Harting

HARTING experiences enhanced desire for MID jobs and has even more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by buying a competitor’s company. Ground breaking in-dwelling products and solutions are also contributing to even further expansion. HARTING has made a answer based on 3D-MID technological innovation which replaces flexible PCBs with a component provider. Alternatively of applying a flex-PCB, the part carrier can be equipped instantly with electronic elements, consequently saving up to two thirds of the price.



HARTING 3D-MID is featuring the full price chain for 3D-MID technologies from a one supply, together with progress/prototyping of buyer-specific products and solutions, injection moulding, laser immediate structuring, metallization, assembly and connection technological know-how, as properly as final inspection. Its core enterprise is the production of mechatronic components for auto manufacturing, business, medical technologies and sensor units.

Dirk Rettschlag, undertaking supervisor & IE MID at Harting MID.




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