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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a specific good results tale. For practically 20 several years, it has been achievable to utilize electronic conductor paths specifically on to plastic parts in the course of collection production. LDS allows the generation of digital assemblies with adaptable geometric designs. This process permits electronic items (this sort of as sensible phones, sensors or healthcare equipment) to turn into even smaller sized and a lot more potent. Automatic manufacturing procedures also make this procedure more economically appealing.

There is significantly less and significantly less place available for digital assemblies, so alternatives are essential which swap common printed circuit boards. LDS enables further more miniaturization and helps make significantly sophisticated geometric styles attainable. This is a stable and trusted approach that has established itself in excellent-vital sectors these types of as health-related know-how or security-appropriate elements for the automotive industry.

LDS course of action allows three-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Gadgets) assemblies to be created. When working with 3D-MID, electronic elements can be fitted instantly onto a a few-dimensional base body, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The base body is produced using an injection moulding approach, whereby the thermoplastic material has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The framework of the conductor path is used using the LDS system.
LDS permits digital assemblies to be built in versatile geometric styles. Wise phones, listening to aids and good watches are starting to be more compact and additional highly effective many thanks to this process. Source: Harting

The additives in the content are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic materials can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the parts supposed for the conductor paths and generates a micro-tough composition. The released metal particles sort the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are used to the places marked by the laser. The other regions of the 3-dimensional foundation body stay unchanged. The plastic element can then be assembled in normal SMD processes related to a typical PCB. It is also ideal for soldering in a reflow oven.

Multipurpose software of laser technologies

As a person of the premier suppliers of 3D-MID components exterior of Asia, HARTING utilizes large-efficiency laser units for the LDS procedure, with three lasers functioning in parallel, each and every offset by 45 levels. Thanks to an more axis of rotation, parts can be processed by the laser at the same time from all sides (360 degrees). This technological innovation permits adaptable geometric designs, this sort of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be designed. Regardless of the small conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are still suitable for demanding automotive parts or for applications with currents up to 10 A – for case in point for heating coils in cameras which are applied to protect against the optics from fogging up

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

Frequent variations all through the electronics growth stage or new factors with modified dimensions can guide to pricey changes throughout regular PCB generation. The laser format, in distinction, can be tailored extremely flexibly by working with the parameters of the laser’s handle computer software. No improvements in the injection moulding are essential for this.

The generation of prototypes working with LDS is also easier when compared to conventional procedures. HARTING can develop the plastic base system utilizing LDS-suitable content and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be utilized with reasonably priced prototype applications.

New traits in the LDS process

Various facets of LDS technologies have been improved and even further made about the earlier number of yrs.

  • The doing work region 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 much larger elements.
  • The doing the job pace of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which information the laser beam, therefore considerably decreasing 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 wonderful concentration of 50 μm for processing even more compact buildings.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the world that has a laser technique with a few great focus optics of 50 μm. Even lesser conductor path gaps can be achieved thanks to this wonderful emphasis laser. Consequently, quite a few conductor paths can be established on the identical ingredient and a increased packing density can be implemented. This is applied for security technology, amid other matters, because the closely spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering safety alarms from even the smallest actual physical interference.

Improvements in components and economics

Only specifically chosen thermoplastics are accredited for the LDS method these are out there from inventory. The system can be even further enhanced with shopper-distinct adjustments to the plastic materials:

  • HARTING uses a approach which provides LDS additives to non-licensed elements to make them MID-appropriate.
  • Specific RAL or Pantone colours can be attained with MID plastics by making use of colour pigments and exclusive LDS additives.
  • By picking suited additives, exclusive RF attributes can also be implemented, based on the frequency range.

Electronic elements – these as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected right on to the element carrier. The assembled part carriers can then be processed as standard SMD parts. Source: Harting

To further more increase the expense-performance of the manufacturing system, HARTING relies on automated robotic devices. The LDS laser procedure is equipped with a rotary indexing table so that a part can be inserted or removed while yet another ingredient is nevertheless remaining processed. The in-feed and unloading processes are automatic by HARTING employing robotics. This raises throughput and autonomy, even though also enabling integration into automatic manufacturing procedures. An additional automation stage is delivered throughout the injection moulding procedure. In this article, much too, a robotic normally takes about the elimination of the injection moulded pieces. The use of robotics also improves the exact reproducibility of the procedures and, thus, in general product or service good quality.

Additional development for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps guard the electronics from unauthorized access both of those mechanically and electronically. A remarkably precise meandering structure detects just about every entry, no issue how tiny, and consequently prevents theft. Supply: Harting

HARTING stories improved demand from customers for MID assignments and has further expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in equipment and by buying a competitor’s small business. Impressive in-household products and solutions are also contributing to even more development. HARTING has designed a option based on 3D-MID technology which replaces versatile PCBs with a element carrier. As a substitute of utilizing a flex-PCB, the element provider can be equipped directly with electronic factors, so conserving up to two thirds of the value.



HARTING 3D-MID is providing the finish price chain for 3D-MID systems from a one source, like enhancement/prototyping of shopper-specific merchandise, injection moulding, laser direct structuring, metallization, assembly and relationship technological know-how, as very well as last inspection. Its core small business is the generation of mechatronic components for auto manufacturing, field, healthcare technological innovation and sensor methods.

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