December 8, 2023


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

5 min read

Laser immediate structuring (LDS) is a unique success story. For virtually 20 a long time, it has been achievable to implement digital conductor paths instantly on to plastic parts in the course of collection creation. LDS permits the manufacturing of digital assemblies with flexible geometric shapes. This process enables electronic products (this sort of as intelligent phones, sensors or health-related gadgets) to turn out to be even lesser and additional strong. Automatic producing processes also make this system extra economically attractive.

There is significantly less and much less room available for digital assemblies, so answers are wanted which exchange regular printed circuit boards. LDS permits even more miniaturization and tends to make more and more complicated geometric patterns feasible. This is a stable and trustworthy method that has proven alone in high quality-vital sectors this kind of as professional medical technological innovation or safety-relevant components for the automotive marketplace.

LDS process enables three-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring permits 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Devices) assemblies to be created. When making use of 3D-MID, electronic factors can be fitted right onto a a few-dimensional base overall body, devoid of circuit boards or connecting cables. The foundation system is produced making use of an injection moulding process, whereby the thermoplastic materials has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The composition of the conductor route is used using the LDS method.
LDS permits digital assemblies to be designed in adaptable geometric styles. Clever phones, listening to aids and smart watches are becoming scaled-down and a lot more powerful thanks to this course of action. Resource: Harting

The additives in the material are “activated” by immediate laser structuring so that the plastic materials can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the regions meant for the conductor paths and results in a micro-rough construction. The introduced metal particles form 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 places of the a few-dimensional foundation physique continue being unchanged. The plastic ingredient can then be assembled in normal SMD processes comparable to a traditional PCB. It is also appropriate for soldering in a reflow oven.

Adaptable application of laser know-how

As a single of the greatest suppliers of 3D-MID elements outside of Asia, HARTING works by using substantial-functionality laser methods for the LDS procedure, with 3 lasers operating in parallel, each offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an additional axis of rotation, components can be processed by the laser at the same time from all sides (360 levels). This technology allows adaptable geometric designs, this sort of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be created. Regardless of the minimal conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are even now suited for demanding automotive factors or for apps with currents up to 10 A – for illustration for heating coils in cameras which are made use of to prevent the optics from fogging up

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

Regular improvements throughout the electronics development phase or new factors with modified dimensions can direct to expensive adjustments throughout regular PCB creation. The laser format, in contrast, can be adapted quite flexibly by applying the parameters of the laser’s handle software program. No improvements in the injection moulding are expected for this.

The production of prototypes applying LDS is also much easier when compared to traditional processes. HARTING can create the plastic foundation entire body employing LDS-appropriate content and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be made use of with reasonably priced prototype equipment.

New developments in the LDS approach

Many aspects of LDS know-how have been improved and additional produced around the previous couple of many years.

  • The working place of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, as a result enabling a greater packing density and the processing of even larger sized components.
  • The doing the job velocity of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which guide the laser beam, thereby noticeably cutting down 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 good emphasis of 50 μm for processing even more compact structures.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the planet that has a laser procedure with a few fine concentrate optics of 50 μm. Even more compact conductor path gaps can be obtained thanks to this high-quality target laser. Therefore, many conductor paths can be established on the similar element and a better packing density can be executed. This is made use of for protection know-how, between other points, simply because the carefully spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering security alarms from even the smallest actual physical interference.

Innovations in elements and economics

Only specially selected thermoplastics are licensed for the LDS method these are accessible from inventory. The approach can be further enhanced with client-precise adjustments to the plastic substance:

  • HARTING makes use of a method which provides LDS additives to non-qualified components to make them MID-appropriate.
  • Specific RAL or Pantone colours can be attained with MID plastics by working with colour pigments and distinctive LDS additives.
  • By picking out appropriate additives, particular RF features can also be implemented, depending on the frequency selection.

Electronic parts – this sort of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be hooked up instantly onto the component provider. The assembled ingredient carriers can then be processed as typical SMD elements. Resource: Harting

To more make improvements to the charge-success of the producing system, HARTING depends on automatic robotic systems. The LDS laser program is equipped with a rotary indexing table so that a ingredient can be inserted or taken off while a different element is nonetheless currently being processed. The in-feed and unloading methods are automated by HARTING employing robotics. This boosts throughput and autonomy, even though also enabling integration into automatic manufacturing processes. An additional automation step is furnished throughout the injection moulding approach. Below, way too, a robot can take over the removing of the injection moulded pieces. The use of robotics also improves the precise reproducibility of the processes and, thus, overall products high quality.

Extra growth for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps safeguard the electronics from unauthorized entry both equally mechanically and electronically. A remarkably specific meandering framework detects each and every access, no issue how little, and consequently prevents theft. Supply: Harting

HARTING studies elevated desire for MID projects and has further expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in equipment and by acquiring a competitor’s organization. Innovative in-household products and solutions are also contributing to even further expansion. HARTING has developed a resolution dependent on 3D-MID technologies which replaces versatile PCBs with a element carrier. As a substitute of utilizing a flex-PCB, the component provider can be equipped directly with digital components, hence preserving up to two thirds of the value.



HARTING 3D-MID is featuring the comprehensive value chain for 3D-MID systems from a solitary supply, such as growth/prototyping of customer-specific items, injection moulding, laser direct structuring, metallization, assembly and link technological know-how, as perfectly as remaining inspection. Its core organization is the creation of mechatronic elements for vehicle producing, business, health care technology and sensor devices.

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