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Lasers for pcb manufacture?

Researchers from De Montfort University are exploring whether laser technology can provide a low cost, chemical free method of manufacturing pcbs.

The two year project – Laser Printed Electronics – is being conducted by the university’s Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Group, led by Professor David Wimpenny. The aim is to develop a deposition system based on a novel combination of laser printing and fibre laser consolidation of the deposited material.
Prof Wimpenny said: “This project represents an important development for my team at DMU as this will extend our research into the field of electronics manufacture for the first time.”
The project will initially look at laying conductive tracks on the circuit boards, but the approach could also be used to deposit layers of dielectric or protective materials, solder for connection of devices and also to print legends on boards.
PCB manufacturer Quartz-TSL, which is coordinating the research project, will be testing the new process along with Flex-Ability. Another partner, MTT, will develop laser sintering hardware for the system.
The two year project is worth more than £340,000 with £182,000 coming from the Technology Strategy Board’s High Value Manufacturing Call.

Graham Pitcher

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