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

Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a unique achievement story. For almost 20 years, it has been probable to apply electronic conductor paths right onto plastic pieces all through series creation. LDS permits the manufacturing of electronic assemblies with adaptable geometric styles. This approach allows digital goods (such as intelligent phones, sensors or health-related devices) to become even smaller sized and much more highly effective. Automatic manufacturing processes also make this course of action much more economically attractive.

There is a lot less and fewer space obtainable for electronic assemblies, so options are necessary which substitute conventional printed circuit boards. LDS permits further miniaturization and helps make more and more elaborate geometric patterns doable. This is a secure and responsible procedure that has established itself in top quality-vital sectors such as health-related technologies or protection-applicable elements for the automotive business.

LDS procedure allows 3-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring allows 3D-MID (Mechatronic Integrated Gadgets) assemblies to be developed. When utilizing 3D-MID, electronic elements can be equipped directly on to a 3-dimensional base human body, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The foundation physique is made using an injection moulding system, whereby the thermoplastic material has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The construction of the conductor path is utilized utilizing the LDS system.
LDS enables digital assemblies to be produced in adaptable geometric designs. Clever telephones, hearing aids and good watches are getting to be smaller sized and additional strong many thanks to this procedure. Supply: Harting

The additives in the material are “activated” by immediate laser structuring so that the plastic material can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the parts meant for the conductor paths and creates a micro-tough framework. The launched metal particles type 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 locations of the three-dimensional foundation physique remain unchanged. The plastic component can then be assembled in typical SMD procedures similar to a conventional PCB. It is also ideal for soldering in a reflow oven.

Multipurpose application of laser technology

As a person of the premier suppliers of 3D-MID components exterior of Asia, HARTING makes use of superior-functionality laser techniques for the LDS course of action, with 3 lasers functioning in parallel, just about every offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an supplemental axis of rotation, elements can be processed by the laser concurrently from all sides (360 degrees). This engineering permits flexible geometric shapes, these as reflector shells or LED lights, to be designed. In spite of the small conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are nonetheless suited for demanding automotive components or for apps with currents up to 10 A – for illustration for heating coils in cameras which are made use of to stop the optics from fogging up

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

Regular variations for the duration of the electronics improvement period or new components with modified dimensions can guide to high priced adjustments throughout regular PCB generation. The laser format, in distinction, can be tailored really flexibly by making use of the parameters of the laser’s handle computer software. No adjustments in the injection moulding are required for this.

The creation of prototypes applying LDS is also much easier compared to typical processes. HARTING can deliver the plastic foundation physique applying LDS-compatible substance and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be utilised with economical prototype applications.

New traits in the LDS procedure

Many factors of LDS technologies have been enhanced and further produced about the earlier couple several years.

  • The performing space of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, hence enabling a increased packing density and the processing of even larger sized parts.
  • The doing the job speed of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which guide the laser beam, thereby drastically lessening the processing time.
  • The enhancement of the optics permits the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a wonderful target of 50 μm for processing even smaller buildings.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the globe that has a laser technique with a few great concentration optics of 50 μm. Even more compact conductor route gaps can be attained thanks to this great emphasis laser. Thus, a lot of conductor paths can be established on the very same ingredient and a increased packing density can be executed. This is made use of for protection engineering, between other things, mainly because the intently spaced and intertwined conductors are capable of triggering basic safety alarms from even the smallest physical interference.

Improvements in materials and economics

Only specifically selected thermoplastics are qualified for the LDS process these are obtainable from inventory. The process can be more improved with shopper-certain adjustments to the plastic materials:

  • HARTING works by using a procedure which provides LDS additives to non-licensed supplies to make them MID-suitable.
  • Precise RAL or Pantone colours can be accomplished with MID plastics by making use of colour pigments and distinctive LDS additives.
  • By picking acceptable additives, distinctive RF properties can also be applied, dependent on the frequency variety.

Electronic factors – these as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected instantly on to the ingredient provider. The assembled element carriers can then be processed as typical SMD components. Supply: Harting

To additional make improvements to the value-efficiency of the producing process, HARTING depends on automated robotic programs. The LDS laser system is geared up with a rotary indexing desk so that a component can be inserted or taken out though yet another component is nevertheless getting processed. The in-feed and unloading techniques are automated by HARTING using robotics. This will increase throughput and autonomy, although also enabling integration into automated manufacturing processes. An extra automation stage is presented in the course of the injection moulding process. Below, also, a robotic requires over the removal of the injection moulded parts. The use of robotics also enhances the specific reproducibility of the processes and, consequently, over-all solution good quality.

Additional development for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps secure the electronics from unauthorized entry the two mechanically and electronically. A remarkably exact meandering framework detects each and every obtain, no subject how small, and therefore prevents theft. Source: Harting

HARTING studies increased need for MID tasks and has further more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by buying a competitor’s enterprise. Modern in-house solutions are also contributing to even more advancement. HARTING has formulated a resolution based on 3D-MID engineering which replaces flexible PCBs with a component provider. As a substitute of making use of a flex-PCB, the component provider can be equipped immediately with electronic factors, as a result saving up to two thirds of the value.



HARTING 3D-MID is featuring the total price chain for 3D-MID systems from a one source, like progress/prototyping of client-specific items, injection moulding, laser direct structuring, metallization, assembly and relationship technology, as well as closing inspection. Its main business is the output of mechatronic factors for vehicle manufacturing, marketplace, professional medical know-how and sensor methods.

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