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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a unique success tale. For pretty much 20 many years, it has been attainable to utilize digital conductor paths right on to plastic pieces all through sequence output. LDS enables the production of electronic assemblies with adaptable geometric shapes. This system enables electronic merchandise (this kind of as wise phones, sensors or medical units) to come to be even smaller and far more powerful. Automatic manufacturing processes also make this process more economically desirable.

There is much less and a lot less space available for digital assemblies, so remedies are required which substitute typical printed circuit boards. LDS permits more miniaturization and can make more and more complicated geometric layouts feasible. This is a steady and reputable course of action that has recognized itself in high quality-critical sectors these kinds of as healthcare technological know-how or safety-suitable parts for the automotive sector.

LDS approach enables a few-dimensional assemblies

Direct laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Built-in Equipment) assemblies to be produced. When making use of 3D-MID, digital elements can be equipped specifically onto a a few-dimensional base physique, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The foundation overall body is made using an injection moulding method, whereby the thermoplastic substance has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The framework of the conductor path is used making use of the LDS approach.
LDS allows digital assemblies to be created in versatile geometric styles. Smart telephones, hearing aids and clever watches are getting to be scaled-down and additional potent thanks to this procedure. Resource: 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 regions supposed for the conductor paths and produces a micro-rough composition. The introduced steel particles variety the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are applied to the spots marked by the laser. The other locations of the three-dimensional foundation body remain unchanged. The plastic part can then be assembled in common SMD procedures related to a common PCB. It is also suited for soldering in a reflow oven.

Versatile software of laser technology

As one of the most significant suppliers of 3D-MID factors outdoors of Asia, HARTING employs large-overall performance laser methods for the LDS process, with 3 lasers doing work in parallel, each offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an added axis of rotation, elements can be processed by the laser simultaneously from all sides (360 degrees). This technological know-how permits versatile geometric styles, such as reflector shells or LED lights, to be designed. Inspite of the nominal conductor route thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are nevertheless suited for demanding automotive elements or for purposes with currents up to 10 A – for instance for heating coils in cameras which are made use of to protect against the optics from fogging up

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

Repeated variations through the electronics progress period or new components with modified proportions can direct to highly-priced adjustments in the course of standard PCB production. The laser structure, in distinction, can be tailored very flexibly by utilizing the parameters of the laser’s command computer software. No alterations in the injection moulding are demanded for this.

The manufacturing of prototypes applying LDS is also less complicated in contrast to typical processes. HARTING can develop the plastic foundation physique utilizing LDS-appropriate content and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be made use of with reasonably priced prototype instruments.

New trends in the LDS process

Many elements of LDS technological know-how have been improved and even further made over the earlier handful of yrs.

  • The doing work location of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, therefore enabling a larger packing density and the processing of even larger elements.
  • The doing work pace of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo units and mirrors which guidebook the laser beam, therefore considerably decreasing the processing time.
  • The advancement of the optics allows the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a wonderful emphasis of 50 μm for processing even lesser structures.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the earth that has a laser procedure with three fantastic target optics of 50 μm. Even smaller sized conductor route gaps can be attained thanks to this great aim laser. Thus, many conductor paths can be developed on the identical ingredient and a higher packing density can be carried out. This is applied for basic safety technological know-how, among the other factors, because the intently spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering safety alarms from even the smallest actual physical interference.

Developments in supplies and economics

Only specially picked thermoplastics are certified for the LDS method these are accessible from stock. The procedure can be further improved with shopper-precise changes to the plastic product:

  • HARTING uses a process which provides LDS additives to non-accredited supplies to make them MID-compatible.
  • Precise RAL or Pantone colours can be reached with MID plastics by working with color pigments and distinctive LDS additives.
  • By selecting ideal additives, distinctive RF properties can also be executed, dependent on the frequency assortment.

Digital components – this kind of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be hooked up immediately onto the ingredient provider. The assembled element carriers can then be processed as normal SMD components. Supply: Harting

To further more strengthen the charge-efficiency of the producing method, HARTING relies on automatic robotic methods. The LDS laser process is equipped with a rotary indexing desk so that a element can be inserted or taken off even though an additional ingredient is nevertheless staying processed. The in-feed and unloading methods are automatic by HARTING making use of robotics. This will increase throughput and autonomy, although also enabling integration into automated output processes. An added automation move is furnished through the injection moulding approach. In this article, too, a robotic will take over the elimination of the injection moulded parts. The use of robotics also enhances the exact reproducibility of the procedures and, therefore, over-all product excellent.

Additional expansion for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps protect the electronics from unauthorized access both equally mechanically and electronically. A remarkably exact meandering composition detects every accessibility, no make any difference how compact, and for that reason stops theft. Source: Harting

HARTING studies amplified desire for MID initiatives and has even further expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by obtaining a competitor’s small business. Progressive in-dwelling merchandise are also contributing to even more advancement. HARTING has formulated a option based on 3D-MID engineering which replaces flexible PCBs with a element carrier. As a substitute of using a flex-PCB, the part carrier can be fitted immediately with electronic elements, hence preserving up to two thirds of the expense.



HARTING 3D-MID is providing the total benefit chain for 3D-MID systems from a one source, which includes development/prototyping of client-precise goods, injection moulding, laser direct structuring, metallization, assembly and relationship engineering, as very well as closing inspection. Its core business enterprise is the manufacturing of mechatronic parts for auto manufacturing, market, professional medical engineering and sensor systems.

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