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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a particular achievement story. For practically 20 many years, it has been feasible to implement electronic conductor paths specifically on to plastic areas throughout sequence manufacturing. LDS enables the creation of electronic assemblies with adaptable geometric styles. This system permits digital solutions (such as smart telephones, sensors or clinical equipment) to develop into even more compact and far more strong. Automated production procedures also make this approach far more economically attractive.

There is significantly less and a lot less place accessible for digital assemblies, so alternatives are necessary which swap typical printed circuit boards. LDS enables further miniaturization and will make more and more elaborate geometric layouts achievable. This is a stable and responsible procedure that has recognized itself in excellent-significant sectors these kinds of as health-related technological know-how or security-relevant elements for the automotive marketplace.

LDS procedure allows three-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring enables 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Products) assemblies to be produced. When working with 3D-MID, digital factors can be equipped instantly onto a three-dimensional foundation body, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The base human body is created working with an injection moulding process, whereby the thermoplastic material has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The composition of the conductor path is used working with the LDS approach.
LDS permits digital assemblies to be made in adaptable geometric styles. Wise telephones, listening to aids and intelligent watches are starting to be smaller and far more strong thanks to this process. Source: Harting

The additives in the product are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic substance can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the locations supposed for the conductor paths and produces a micro-rough framework. The launched steel 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 regions of the a few-dimensional foundation body keep on being unchanged. The plastic component can then be assembled in conventional SMD procedures equivalent to a standard PCB. It is also acceptable for soldering in a reflow oven.

Versatile software of laser technological know-how

As one particular of the greatest suppliers of 3D-MID factors outside of Asia, HARTING takes advantage of higher-efficiency laser techniques for the LDS method, with three lasers working in parallel, each individual offset by 45 degrees. Thanks to an added axis of rotation, elements can be processed by the laser concurrently from all sides (360 degrees). This technologies allows flexible geometric designs, these types of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be created. Irrespective of the minimum conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are continue to appropriate for demanding automotive elements or for applications with currents up to 10 A – for illustration for heating coils in cameras which are employed to avoid the optics from fogging up

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

Regular alterations in the course of the electronics growth phase or new parts with modified dimensions can direct to highly-priced changes throughout regular PCB manufacturing. The laser structure, in contrast, can be adapted very flexibly by using the parameters of the laser’s regulate computer software. No adjustments in the injection moulding are expected for this.

The manufacturing of prototypes making use of LDS is also easier as opposed to traditional procedures. HARTING can produce the plastic foundation human body utilizing LDS-suitable materials and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be utilised with inexpensive prototype equipment.

New developments in the LDS course of action

Many elements of LDS technological innovation have been improved and further more produced around the past few decades.

  • The operating area 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 higher 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 units and mirrors which guide the laser beam, therefore drastically lowering 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 good focus of 50 μm for processing even scaled-down structures.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID producer in the entire world that has a laser technique with a few high-quality concentration optics of 50 μm. Even smaller conductor path gaps can be realized thanks to this wonderful target laser. Therefore, lots of conductor paths can be designed on the similar part and a increased packing density can be applied. This is utilized for protection know-how, amongst other things, mainly because the closely spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering security alarms from even the smallest bodily interference.

Innovations in components and economics

Only specifically selected thermoplastics are licensed for the LDS system these are offered from inventory. The course of action can be further more improved with consumer-certain adjustments to the plastic content:

  • HARTING works by using a method which adds LDS additives to non-licensed resources to make them MID-suitable.
  • Particular RAL or Pantone colors can be realized with MID plastics by working with colour pigments and particular LDS additives.
  • By deciding upon appropriate additives, particular RF properties can also be implemented, based on the frequency variety.

Digital elements – this sort of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected directly onto the element provider. The assembled part carriers can then be processed as common SMD elements. Resource: Harting

To further enhance the charge-performance of the manufacturing system, HARTING depends on automatic robotic techniques. The LDS laser program is outfitted with a rotary indexing table so that a ingredient can be inserted or eliminated whilst an additional ingredient is continue to being processed. The in-feed and unloading methods are automatic by HARTING making use of robotics. This boosts throughput and autonomy, whilst also enabling integration into automatic output procedures. An more automation step is provided during the injection moulding method. Below, as well, a robot will take about the elimination of the injection moulded components. The use of robotics also increases the precise reproducibility of the processes and, so, total solution high quality.

Much more growth for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps guard the electronics from unauthorized access both mechanically and electronically. A highly precise meandering construction detects each entry, no make a difference how small, and for that reason stops theft. Resource: Harting

HARTING studies improved demand from customers for MID assignments and has more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by buying a competitor’s business. Modern in-house merchandise are also contributing to further progress. HARTING has designed a solution dependent on 3D-MID engineering which replaces flexible PCBs with a ingredient provider. As a substitute of working with a flex-PCB, the component provider can be fitted specifically with electronic elements, consequently saving up to two thirds of the expense.



HARTING 3D-MID is supplying the entire value chain for 3D-MID systems from a single supply, such as progress/prototyping of customer-unique goods, injection moulding, laser immediate structuring, metallization, assembly and link technological know-how, as very well as ultimate inspection. Its main company is the manufacturing of mechatronic parts for vehicle manufacturing, marketplace, medical technologies and sensor techniques.

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