Flexible circuit boards offer numerous advantages. However, the mechanical fixation of these circuit boards is highly complex. HARTING has developed a solution based on 3D-MID technology that is capable of replacing flexible circuit boards. Thanks to component carriers, cost savings of up to two-thirds can be achieved. At the MID process, on the injection molded part a customized layout is applied. At electronic assembly, the components are mounted on the desired surface.
By harnessing this development, electronic components can be fitted directly onto the component carrier, thereby replacing flexible circuit boards. The component carrier serves as a connecting element between the printed circuit board (PCB) and electronic components such as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes, and sensors. Electronic components are mounted directly on the new component carrier in automated processes. The frequently complex processes involved in processing flexible circuit boards is dispensed with, thereby reducing costs by up to two-thirds.
The populated component carriers are delivered in tape & reel. In their standard design, the carriers can be processed in automatic assembly systems, just like other SMD electronic components. Two different sizes are currently available and can accommodate electronic components of standard size SOIC-8 and smaller. Moreover, HARTING can also produce carriers in customer-specific sizes.
The component carrier is suitable for scenarios in which electrical components, such as sensors, need to be positioned normally to the circuit board. The automatic assembly process enables the placement of temperature sensors or hall sensors on the carrier to a high degree of accuracy, which in turn results in precise, reproducible measurements. Optical components are another salient example, such as LEDs or photodiodes used to generate precise light barriers.
The component carrier also makes it possible to maintain a clearance between the circuit board and an electronic component. Consequently, a temperature sensor can be used to measure the temperature in the housing without being influenced by the waste heat from other components on the PCB. It also means that an LED can be placed clear of the circuit board, thereby avoiding the risk of surrounding components casting shadows.
The component carrier can be manufactured using different base polymers. In this way, different antenna material properties can be factored in, such as dielectric constant and loss factor. The specific antenna layout can be used for various applications in the MHz and GHz frequency range, such as Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, and 5G.3D-MID technology as an alternative to flexible PCBs.
Thanks to the 3D-MID (mechatronic integrated device) technology, electronic components can be fitted directly onto a three-dimensional body without the need for circuit boards or connecting cables. The base body is produced through injection molding, whereby the thermoplastic is provided with a non-conductive, inorganic additive. In order for this material to be able to accommodate electrical circuits, the additives in the plastic are "activated" through laser direct structuring (LDS). In this process, the laser beam writes the areas intended for the conductive tracks and creates a micro-rough structure. The metal particles released in the process form the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallization.