Two new technologies are described for manufacturing circuitry commonly used in printed circuit boards (PCBs), multi‐chip modules (MCMs), hybrid circuits and other applications. Both processes involve the additive use of dry conductive powders which are in the micron and sub‐micron size range. Various conductive powders, such as copper, can be used. In addition, custom powder formulations to create resistive circuit elements can now be used during the same fabrication operations. The two new processes offer significant advantages over current methods. The laser in combination with sub‐micron powders allows extremely fine circuit lines and spaces to be written. Line widths of 1 mil (25 microns) can be produced. Three‐dimensional surfaces can have circuitry fabricated on them using both process methods. Lasers allow for a higher degree of accuracy, repeatability and product yield than currently experienced within the industry. Line widths and thicknesses can be software controlled and in real time. The processes do not use resists, etching or wet chemicals, thus providing substantial savings due to fewer process steps and the elimination of wet chemical handling and disposal, which is of mounting environmental concern. Use of clean process water is not required, which is an issue of cost and supply, especially in drought‐ridden areas. Very little waste is generated with the new processes as they are additive and unused powder can be reused. The first process utilises a laser to write the circuit lines on the substrate directly from a CAD/CAM database. No artwork is required for production purposes. All existing software can be used for inputting and driving the process equipment. In the process, a film of heat‐activated adhesive is laid on a substrate on top of which a layer of conductive powder is placed. The low‐power laser defines the circuitry by activating the powder and adhesive. Powder which is not activated is removed and reused. Applications include prototype production for the rapid turnaround of product to design engineers. The second process uses technology similar to that used in desktop laser printers. Instead of using toner and paper, conductive powder particles are deposited directly onto a substrate to create circuitry. The transfer and deposition of the powder are performed electrostatically and employ the same principles used in a photocopier. This allows for high volume production, with manufacturing times measured in seconds and minutes. CAD/CAM systems can be used directly; the equipment can be desk‐sized and is capable of operating in an office or laboratory environment. This yields savings on expensive custom facilities. Desktop manufacturing of circuitry using these new patented processes is within sight.
Soszek, P. (1993), "Two Novel Additive Processes to Create Circuitry: Direct Laser Writing and Direct Electrostatic Transfer Deposition", Circuit World, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 12-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb046219Download as .RIS
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