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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a special results tale. For nearly 20 years, it has been possible to utilize digital conductor paths directly onto plastic components throughout sequence generation. LDS allows the production of digital assemblies with adaptable geometric styles. This approach permits electronic products (such as good phones, sensors or medical devices) to develop into even scaled-down and much more potent. Automatic manufacturing processes also make this course of action additional economically appealing.

There is fewer and considerably less space available for electronic assemblies, so remedies are required which change traditional printed circuit boards. LDS allows even more miniaturization and can make increasingly complex geometric layouts doable. This is a secure and trustworthy system that has proven by itself in high-quality-crucial sectors these types of as clinical technological know-how or security-suitable components for the automotive sector.

LDS process enables a few-dimensional assemblies

Direct laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Units) assemblies to be produced. When applying 3D-MID, electronic parts can be fitted directly onto a a few-dimensional foundation entire body, without circuit boards or connecting cables. The foundation system is made working with an injection moulding system, whereby the thermoplastic substance has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The construction of the conductor path is applied employing the LDS procedure.
LDS permits digital assemblies to be created in flexible geometric designs. Sensible telephones, listening to aids and good watches are turning into lesser and more potent many thanks to this approach. Resource: Harting

The additives in the product are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic material can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the locations meant for the conductor paths and produces a micro-rough structure. The introduced metallic particles sort the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are applied to the places marked by the laser. The other areas of the a few-dimensional base body continue to be unchanged. The plastic element can then be assembled in common SMD procedures identical to a conventional PCB. It is also ideal for soldering in a reflow oven.

Functional software of laser technological know-how

As one particular of the largest suppliers of 3D-MID elements outside the house of Asia, HARTING uses higher-general performance laser methods for the LDS process, with three lasers doing the job in parallel, every single offset by 45 levels. Thanks to an additional axis of rotation, components can be processed by the laser simultaneously from all sides (360 levels). This technological know-how permits versatile geometric styles, these types of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be created. Even with the nominal conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are however acceptable for demanding automotive parts or for applications with currents up to 10 A – for instance for heating coils in cameras which are utilized to prevent the optics from fogging up

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

Recurrent changes in the course of the electronics improvement stage or new parts with modified proportions can direct to pricey adjustments during traditional PCB manufacturing. The laser layout, in contrast, can be adapted pretty flexibly by working with the parameters of the laser’s handle computer software. No changes in the injection moulding are required for this.

The production of prototypes making use of LDS is also simpler in contrast to standard procedures. HARTING can make the plastic foundation human body applying LDS-suitable content and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be used with cheap prototype tools.

New trends in the LDS procedure

Numerous elements of LDS technological know-how have been improved and even more made more than the past handful of a long time.

  • 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, as a result enabling a greater packing density and the processing of even more substantial components.
  • The performing velocity of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo units and mirrors which guideline the laser beam, therefore substantially minimizing the processing time.
  • The advancement of the optics enables the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a high-quality concentrate of 50 μm for processing even more compact buildings.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID producer in the earth that has a laser procedure with three high-quality focus optics of 50 μm. Even smaller conductor path gaps can be achieved thanks to this good focus laser. Therefore, quite a few conductor paths can be created on the exact element and a increased packing density can be implemented. This is made use of for security technological know-how, between other points, because the intently spaced and intertwined conductors are capable of triggering protection alarms from even the smallest physical interference.

Improvements in supplies and economics

Only specifically picked thermoplastics are qualified for the LDS procedure these are offered from stock. The system can be further more improved with customer-specific changes to the plastic substance:

  • HARTING makes use of a system which provides LDS additives to non-certified products to make them MID-suitable.
  • Particular RAL or Pantone colors can be realized with MID plastics by applying color pigments and distinctive LDS additives.
  • By picking suitable additives, special RF traits can also be applied, relying on the frequency assortment.

Electronic parts – such as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected specifically on to the part provider. The assembled component carriers can then be processed as conventional SMD factors. Resource: Harting

To even further improve the value-usefulness of the producing procedure, HARTING depends on automatic robotic techniques. The LDS laser technique is geared up with a rotary indexing table so that a part can be inserted or eliminated while yet another part is still staying processed. The in-feed and unloading procedures are automatic by HARTING applying robotics. This raises throughput and autonomy, although also enabling integration into automated manufacturing processes. An additional automation move is furnished all through the injection moulding system. Below, much too, a robotic usually takes about the elimination of the injection moulded areas. The use of robotics also improves the precise reproducibility of the procedures and, as a result, total item excellent.

Additional growth for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps safeguard the electronics from unauthorized entry the two mechanically and electronically. A really exact meandering framework detects each individual access, no make a difference how compact, and therefore helps prevent theft. Resource: Harting

HARTING stories elevated need for MID jobs and has more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in equipment and by buying a competitor’s business enterprise. Revolutionary in-dwelling products and solutions are also contributing to additional development. HARTING has developed a remedy centered on 3D-MID technological innovation which replaces versatile PCBs with a component carrier. In its place of using a flex-PCB, the component carrier can be fitted straight with digital parts, hence preserving up to two thirds of the cost.



HARTING 3D-MID is presenting the complete value chain for 3D-MID systems from a single resource, which include growth/prototyping of customer-specific solutions, injection moulding, laser immediate structuring, metallization, assembly and link technologies, as very well as ultimate inspection. Its core small business is the creation of mechatronic parts for auto production, field, clinical engineering and sensor techniques.

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