A new laser-based process allows selective, outside-currentless metallization of ceramics, similar to the LPKF-LDS® process that is widely applied to thermoplasts. This new process does not, however, require raw materials with special additives. The ceramic interconnect device is shaped using conventional ceramic injection molding.
For components with high thermal requirements, ceramic materials have distinct advantages over plastics. On the one hand, they are better able to withstand the thermal strain, on the other hand, their higher thermal conductivity enables them to protect electronic components from overheating. Ceramic materials also have a low thermal coefficient of expansion. Therefore, substrates made from ceramic materials are very interesting candidates for the development of LED lighting technology, among other things.
To use injection-molded ceramic substrates as 3D-interconnect devices, the conductive pattern is first structured onto the component surface using a 3D-scanning laser system. This selectively activates the surface for a subsequent outside-currentless metallization process. It is then possible, for example, to apply a circuit path made of the widely-used copper, nickel, and gold surface finishes on which electronic components can installed.
Together with the Institute for Production Technology of Ceramic Components of the University of Stuttgart (IFKB), we are currently working on a research project on the optimization of processes for aluminum oxide ceramics.