September 29, 2023

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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a specific results tale. For just about 20 many years, it has been feasible to apply digital conductor paths right on to plastic elements during series manufacturing. LDS enables the manufacturing of digital assemblies with versatile geometric designs. This course of action enables electronic merchandise (such as sensible phones, sensors or clinical equipment) to come to be even more compact and a lot more potent. Automatic production processes also make this procedure additional economically eye-catching.

There is fewer and significantly less room readily available for electronic assemblies, so options are desired which replace typical printed circuit boards. LDS permits even further miniaturization and can make ever more complicated geometric styles achievable. This is a secure and reliable procedure that has set up itself in top quality-essential sectors these types of as health-related technological know-how or basic safety-suitable elements for the automotive industry.

LDS process permits 3-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Built-in Devices) assemblies to be created. When making use of 3D-MID, electronic factors can be fitted specifically on to a a few-dimensional foundation overall body, devoid of circuit boards or connecting cables. The base entire body is created working with an injection moulding procedure, whereby the thermoplastic product has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The composition of the conductor route is used using the LDS procedure.
LDS allows electronic assemblies to be built in adaptable geometric shapes. Good phones, hearing aids and wise watches are getting more compact and far more potent thanks to this process. Resource: Harting

The additives in the material are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic content can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the parts intended for the conductor paths and creates a micro-tough construction. The produced metallic particles kind the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are applied to the areas marked by the laser. The other places of the 3-dimensional foundation physique continue being unchanged. The plastic part can then be assembled in normal SMD procedures similar to a regular PCB. It is also appropriate for soldering in a reflow oven.

Adaptable software of laser technologies

As just one of the largest suppliers of 3D-MID factors outside of Asia, HARTING utilizes substantial-functionality laser systems for the LDS process, with 3 lasers functioning in parallel, every offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an further axis of rotation, factors can be processed by the laser simultaneously from all sides (360 levels). This engineering allows flexible geometric designs, this kind of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be produced. Despite the small conductor route thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are still suitable for demanding automotive parts or for apps with currents up to 10 A – for case in point for heating coils in cameras which are employed to reduce the optics from fogging up

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

Recurrent alterations for the duration of the electronics development period or new factors with modified proportions can lead to highly-priced changes all through common PCB production. The laser layout, in contrast, can be tailored incredibly flexibly by utilizing the parameters of the laser’s control software package. No improvements in the injection moulding are essential for this.

The generation of prototypes employing LDS is also less difficult as opposed to traditional processes. HARTING can generate the plastic base overall body utilizing LDS-appropriate materials and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be applied with low-cost prototype tools.

New developments in the LDS procedure

Many areas of LDS technological know-how have been improved and further more formulated more than the past several yrs.

  • The performing spot of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, so enabling a better packing density and the processing of even more substantial factors.
  • The working speed of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which guideline the laser beam, thereby considerably cutting down the processing time.
  • The improvement of the optics enables the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a fine concentration of 50 μm for processing even smaller sized constructions.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID maker in the entire world that has a laser program with 3 high-quality concentration optics of 50 μm. Even scaled-down conductor path gaps can be attained many thanks to this wonderful aim laser. Consequently, quite a few conductor paths can be created on the identical part and a bigger packing density can be implemented. This is applied for protection technologies, among other things, due to the fact the closely spaced and intertwined conductors are capable of triggering security alarms from even the smallest physical interference.

Improvements in elements and economics

Only specifically chosen thermoplastics are qualified for the LDS course of action these are accessible from stock. The method can be further more enhanced with shopper-particular changes to the plastic materials:

  • HARTING employs a approach which adds LDS additives to non-accredited products to make them MID-suitable.
  • Certain RAL or Pantone colors can be realized with MID plastics by using color pigments and specific LDS additives.
  • By picking ideal additives, particular RF characteristics can also be implemented, dependent on the frequency selection.

Electronic components – these kinds of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be hooked up directly onto the component provider. The assembled element carriers can then be processed as conventional SMD elements. Source: Harting

To further more boost the value-success of the production system, HARTING depends on automatic robotic systems. The LDS laser process is equipped with a rotary indexing table so that a component can be inserted or removed while a further ingredient is still staying processed. The in-feed and unloading techniques are automated by HARTING using robotics. This improves throughput and autonomy, while also enabling integration into automated manufacturing processes. An additional automation step is offered all through the injection moulding method. Listed here, also, a robotic requires about the removing of the injection moulded elements. The use of robotics also improves the exact reproducibility of the procedures and, as a result, all round products top quality.

Extra growth for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps protect the electronics from unauthorized entry equally mechanically and electronically. A remarkably exact meandering framework detects each and every obtain, no matter how compact, and therefore prevents theft. Supply: Harting

HARTING reviews amplified demand from customers for MID initiatives and has even further expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by buying a competitor’s business enterprise. Innovative in-house products and solutions are also contributing to more growth. HARTING has produced a answer primarily based on 3D-MID know-how which replaces adaptable PCBs with a ingredient provider. In its place of working with a flex-PCB, the part carrier can be fitted directly with electronic elements, so conserving up to two thirds of the cost.



HARTING 3D-MID is providing the total price chain for 3D-MID systems from a solitary source, which includes development/prototyping of purchaser-specific items, injection moulding, laser immediate structuring, metallization, assembly and link technological innovation, as perfectly as last inspection. Its main small business is the creation of mechatronic components for vehicle production, marketplace, health care technology and sensor techniques.

Dirk Rettschlag, venture manager & IE MID at Harting MID.