LONDON U.K. researchers are exploring whether laser technology can provide a low-cost, chemical-free method of making printed circuit boards.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academics are taking part in the Laser Printed Electronics (LPE) two-year research project aimed at providing an environmentally friendly production method for PCBs.
The project is developing a dry printing method that uses no chemicals. DMU’s Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Group, led by Professor David Wimpenny, will develop a deposition system based on a combination of laser printing and fibre laser consolidation of the deposited material.
The project will initially look at laying conductive tracks on the circuit boards but could also be used to deposit layers of dielectric or protective materials, solder for connection of devices and also to print legends on boards.
Quartz-TSL, a PCB manufacturer based in Merry Lees, is coordinating the research project, and along with Hartlepool company Flex-Ability Ltd., will be testing the process. The other partner in the project, MTT Ltd, based in Stone, will develop laser sintering hardware for the system.
The two-year project is worth £341,426 (about $487 000) with £182,346 (about $260000) coming from the Technology Strategy Board’s High Value Manufacturing Call.