Step-by-step guide to Laser Direct Structuring (LDS)


Laser direct Structuring

Laser direct structuring (LDS) has established a good name for itself with molded interconnect devices (MID). The distinctive characteristics of LDS over other MID manufacturing solutions is the way it connects mechanical and electrical elements of a design in such a way as to produce complex components that are impossible to manufacture through any other means. 

With the Fusion 3D series, functional prototypes can be built in one day. It begins with the CAD data to construct the base and followed by the LDS process. 

Laser direct structuring consists of 4 basic steps: 

Injection Molding Injection Molding
A commercially available thermoplastic material containing a special LDS additive is used to produce the laser-structured molded parts, making it a one-shot process. The same properties needed for LDS can also be achieved through a newly developed LDS-graded lacquer or the LPKF ProtoPaint LDS.
Laser Activation Laser Activation
A laser beam is used to create the conductive pattern. An injection-molded plastic element is activated by laser energy, which causes a physiochemical reaction that etches the wiring pattern onto the part and prepares it for metallization. In addition to activation, the laser forms a microrough surface on which the copper firmly anchors itself during metallization. 
Metallization Metallization
The LDS parts are cleaned after laser activation. An additive track build-up then takes place in LPKF ProtoPlate LDS electroless copper bath for 2 hours, typically ranging from 8 to 12μm/h to metallize circuit traces and other conductive features. The process is then completed with an electroless application of nickel and thin gold layer to provide good conduction, adhesion and surface finish. Application-specific coatings such as Sn, Ag, Pd/Au, OSP etc can also be applied in this process.
Assembly Assembly
Many laser-activatable plastics with a high level of heat resistance such as LCP, PA 6/6T or PBT/PET blend are reflow solderable and therefore compatible with standard SMT processes. When applying soldering paste, dispensing is the standard process if different height levels have to be achieved. There are now several providers of technical solutions for three-dimensional assembly

LPKF LDS Technology

LPKF Fusion 3D 1500 LPKF Fusion 3D 1500
LPKF Fusion 3D 1200 LPKF Fusion 3D 1200
LPKF Fusion 3D 1100 LPKF Fusion 3D 1100
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