June 6, 2023


Automotive and technology

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

Laser immediate structuring (LDS) is a specific results story. For virtually 20 yrs, it has been feasible to implement electronic conductor paths straight onto plastic elements throughout series manufacturing. LDS permits the production of electronic assemblies with adaptable geometric styles. This procedure enables electronic products and solutions (these types of as sensible phones, sensors or health care equipment) to come to be even scaled-down and much more strong. Automatic producing processes also make this process a lot more economically beautiful.

There is significantly less and significantly less room readily available for electronic assemblies, so remedies are required which swap conventional printed circuit boards. LDS enables more miniaturization and would make more and more complicated geometric styles possible. This is a steady and trustworthy approach that has founded itself in high-quality-essential sectors this sort of as healthcare know-how or security-applicable elements for the automotive business.

LDS approach allows three-dimensional assemblies

Direct laser structuring allows 3D-MID (Mechatronic Built-in Units) assemblies to be made. When utilizing 3D-MID, electronic components can be fitted right onto a a few-dimensional foundation body, without the need of circuit boards or connecting cables. The base overall body is produced using an injection moulding course of action, whereby the thermoplastic content has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The composition of the conductor path is applied making use of the LDS process.
LDS enables digital assemblies to be built in flexible geometric designs. Good telephones, hearing aids and wise watches are turning out to be lesser and much more powerful many thanks to this method. Supply: Harting

The additives in the product are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic material can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the regions meant for the conductor paths and results in a micro-tough structure. The produced steel particles kind the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are utilized to the places marked by the laser. The other regions of the 3-dimensional base human body remain unchanged. The plastic ingredient can then be assembled in common SMD processes similar to a conventional PCB. It is also appropriate for soldering in a reflow oven.

Flexible software of laser technology

As 1 of the biggest suppliers of 3D-MID factors outdoors of Asia, HARTING utilizes high-efficiency laser units for the LDS process, with a few lasers doing work in parallel, just about every offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an additional axis of rotation, parts can be processed by the laser at the same time from all sides (360 levels). This engineering permits flexible geometric styles, this kind of as reflector shells or LED lights, to be created. Despite the nominal conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are nonetheless suitable for demanding automotive elements or for programs with currents up to 10 A – for example for heating coils in cameras which are made use of to avoid the optics from fogging up

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

Frequent alterations all through the electronics development phase or new parts with modified proportions can guide to expensive adjustments through common PCB manufacturing. The laser structure, in distinction, can be tailored quite flexibly by employing the parameters of the laser’s regulate program. No alterations in the injection moulding are essential for this.

The output of prototypes using LDS is also simpler in comparison to standard procedures. HARTING can produce the plastic base entire body working with LDS-appropriate substance and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be made use of with low-cost prototype equipment.

New traits in the LDS procedure

Numerous facets of LDS technological know-how have been enhanced and additional produced around the previous couple a long time.

  • 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, hence enabling a increased packing density and the processing of even bigger factors.
  • The functioning velocity of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which manual the laser beam, thus significantly cutting down the processing time.
  • The advancement of the optics permits the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a great concentration of 50 μm for processing even more compact buildings.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the earth that has a laser process with three fine concentration optics of 50 μm. Even smaller sized conductor route gaps can be accomplished many thanks to this fine aim laser. As a result, numerous conductor paths can be developed on the same component and a increased packing density can be implemented. This is made use of for protection engineering, amongst other matters, due to the fact the intently spaced and intertwined conductors are capable of triggering basic safety alarms from even the smallest physical interference.

Advancements in products and economics

Only specially picked thermoplastics are certified for the LDS method these are out there from stock. The approach can be additional enhanced with purchaser-specific adjustments to the plastic product:

  • HARTING employs a process which provides LDS additives to non-qualified products to make them MID-suitable.
  • Unique RAL or Pantone colours can be realized with MID plastics by applying color pigments and exclusive LDS additives.
  • By deciding upon suitable additives, particular RF properties can also be executed, relying on the frequency variety.

Electronic components – these kinds of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected right onto the component provider. The assembled ingredient carriers can then be processed as standard SMD factors. Supply: Harting

To additional make improvements to the expense-performance of the manufacturing approach, HARTING depends on automated robotic devices. The LDS laser system is geared up with a rotary indexing table so that a component can be inserted or taken off although one more component is however getting processed. The in-feed and unloading procedures are automatic by HARTING working with robotics. This improves throughput and autonomy, although also enabling integration into automatic generation processes. An extra automation step is delivered during the injection moulding procedure. Right here, much too, a robot will take about the elimination of the injection moulded parts. The use of robotics also enhances the specific reproducibility of the processes and, hence, over-all item top quality.

Additional growth for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps shield the electronics from unauthorized entry the two mechanically and electronically. A really precise meandering structure detects each obtain, no subject how small, and consequently helps prevent theft. Resource: Harting

HARTING experiences improved need for MID projects and has further more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in machinery and by getting a competitor’s business. Progressive in-residence products and solutions are also contributing to even further advancement. HARTING has formulated a option centered on 3D-MID technological innovation which replaces flexible PCBs with a component carrier. In its place of using a flex-PCB, the component provider can be equipped immediately with electronic elements, thus conserving up to two thirds of the expense.



HARTING 3D-MID is featuring the entire price chain for 3D-MID systems from a single supply, which include improvement/prototyping of consumer-certain products and solutions, injection moulding, laser direct structuring, metallization, assembly and relationship know-how, as very well as closing inspection. Its main organization is the creation of mechatronic elements for automobile production, business, healthcare technology and sensor techniques.

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