Laser meets plastics

Technology, Material & Application

Innovative processing of plastic films and printed circuit boards for the electronics industry

The processing of plastics is associated with the highest demands, especially in the electronics industry. Innovative laser processing methods can meet these demands.

With UKP laser technology (ultra-short pulse lasers with pulse durations in the pico- and femtosecond range) and laser sources with wavelengths in the UV and green range ( 355/ 535 nm), excellent results can be achieved on plastic films made of high-temperature-resistant polymers such as polyimide (Kapton®, VESPEL®, Cirlex®, Pyralux®), polyamide or even polycarbonate, polyester or PEEK. Likewise, very good cut edges can be produced with prepregs, flex and rigid-flex PCB materials made of FR3, FR4 or FR5, as well as silicone thermal pads and Teflon film (PTFE). Whereas previously PCB blanks had to be mechanically separated by punching, milling or sawing, now a low-residue and low-soiling web separation as well as free-form contour cutting or drilling of microvias is possible without any mechanical stress at all. The new laser technology avoids carbonisation of the cut edges and, thanks to an extremely small spot diameter, enables up to 30% higher area utilisation compared to classic depanelling methods.  Camera and image processing allow fiducials or geometric structures on the substrate to be processed to be touched without any problems.

In addition, laser technologies enable the elegant production of cover foils, filter foils and multilayer decorative, switching or front foils as well as spacer foils for operating elements and keyboards, among others. It can also be used to process graphite and ferrite materials as EMI seals or absorbers and, in the case of metal foils, for example silver solder foils as preforms or single-sided insulating copper or aluminium foils. In addition, green tapes for the construction of multilayer printed circuit boards made of ceramics (e.g. LTCC) can be processed even more gently.
The processes also score points in the area of surface structuring. For example, a layout can be written directly into the etch or galvano resist with the laser beam and thus a residue-free metal, usually copper, surface can be created. It is also possible to remove solder resist from closely spaced connections and thus produce precise, fine solder pads with clean copper surfaces.

Another highlight is the insertion of very fine insulation in the invisible TCO/ITO layer (Transparent Conductive Oxide or Indium Tin Oxide), which is required for touch-screen technology or for high-quality displays.

All information on UKP processing can be found here at a glance.

Do you have questions about technologies or need support with your project? Contact us - we will be happy to advise you!

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