Electronic assemblies without PCBs

10-09-2020 | Harting | New Technologies

Laser direct structuring (LDS) has made it possible to apply electronic conductor paths directly onto plastic parts during series production. The structure of the conductor path is applied using the LDS process. The process enables electronic assemblies to be constructed in flexible geometric shapes. Smartphones, hearing aids and smartwatches are becoming smaller and more powerful due to this process.

The process facilitates further miniaturisation and makes increasingly complex geometric designs possible. This is a reliable and stable process that has established itself in quality-critical sectors including medical technology or safety-relevant components for the automotive industry.

Direct laser structuring facilitates 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Devices) assemblies to be created. When using 3D-MID, electronic components can be fitted straight onto a three-dimensional base body, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The base body is fabricated using an injection moulding process, whereby the thermoplastic material has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The additives in the material are 'activated' by direct laser structuring so that the plastic material can house the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the areas planned for the conductor paths and produces a micro-rough structure. The released metal particles create the nuclei for the ensuing chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are applied to the locations marked by the laser. The other areas of the three-dimensional base body remain unaltered. The plastic component can then be constructed in standard SMD processes similar to a conventional PCB. It is also suited for soldering in a reflow oven.

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