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At SMT in Nuremberg on 3-5 May 2011, LPKF will present a laser direct structuring method using three components for producing three-dimensional circuit carrier prototypes quickly and affordably.

At the company’s booth – 320 in Hall Six – the entire process will be showcased – from the initial idea to the close-to-production prototype.

Moulded interconnect devices (MID) are produced using injection-moulding plastics to which circuits are later added.

Over the past few years, 3D electronic components have gained a greater market share and this is where LPKF’s laser direct structuring (LDS) method comes in.

It is currently being used to produce approximately 180 million smartphone antennas per year.

First, a plastic doped with a metal-organic additive is used to produce a component by single-shot injection moulding.

A laser beam scribes the circuits onto the components.

During this process the laser roughens the surface, which also activates the additive.

Conductive tracks then build up on these surface structures in a current-less copper bath.

Nickel and gold layers can then be deposited onto the copper.

Typically, there are several prototyping stages between the MID component design and the launch of production: for decision-making processes, assembly studies, or for simply speeding up the product development process.

All the while, configuring the prototypes as close to series as possible is key.

Until now, MID prototyping has been time consuming and expensive – sometimes even impossible.

In recent years there have been advances in the development of 3D rapid prototyping methods.

These plastic components can be produced in a layered construction directly from the CAD data.

The LDS prototyping method uses a plastic object produced through 3D rapid prototyping, onto which a paint with LDS additives of approximately 30-40um is applied.

In practice, two successive paint coats are needed to achieve the required thickness.

This process is followed by laser direct structuring.

LPKF first introduced a pre-series model of the LPKF Fusion3D 1000 used for this process at Hannover in 2011 and will present the final system at the SMT.

This low-cost laser system can structure 3D components along a machining cube of 120 x 120 x 50mm (X, Y, Z).

The processing head is also used in the top model LPKF Fusion3D 6000 so that prototyping parameters can be transferred to production immediately.

The large, vertically adjustable platform is designed for prototyping but can also be used to manufacture small and medium volumes.

The LPKF Fusion3D 1000 requires a minimum footprint of 80 x 150cm (W x D).

It features casters, which make it easy to position, according to LPKF.

The system will be sold worldwide from mid-2011 and will feature the Circuitpro 3D software.

The last step in a complete prototyping chain is metalising.

This is done by a specialised set of laboratory equipment, chemicals and analysing equipment, used in an accurately detailed process in a cascade of beakers.

LPKF Laser and Electronics

Producing with light

LPKF is an international specialist in micromaterial processing using laser systems. Thanks to its core competencies in laser micromaterial processing, optics, laser engineering, control technology and drive technology, it develops systems that underpin particularly economical production methods and enable the production of new products.

Products and services cover the following segments:

– Rapid prototyping

– Cutting- and structuring Laser

– Joining technologies

– Thin-film technologies

The performance is demonstrated by the following examples:

         The LPKF ProtoLaser S is the only laser system worldwide for structuring laminated printed circuit boards – with previously unattainable precision. This and the ability to process ceramic substrates gives rise to new methods of production.

         The systems in the LPKF Allegro product line scribe thin-film solar panels at an industrial level.

         The Gantry-class LPKF StencilLasers are the most productive and accurate on the market.

         High-output systems for laser direct structuring (LDS) opens the way for the mass production of three dimensional MID circuit carriers. Additionally LPKF offers a prototyping process and systems for 3D circuitry.

         Experts develop new systems and processes for plastic welding. The machines realize ultrafine join lines in a wide range of material combinations.

Markets

Laser systems for micromaterial processing in the following markets:

– Electronics

– Plastics

– Photovoltaic

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