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P3T - a new technology for the cost and resource efficient inline production of flexible printed circuits, RFID antennas and biosensors

: Borris, J.; Thomas, M.; Dohse, A.; Klages, C.-P.; Möbius, A.; Elbick, D.; Prinz, U.; Wandner, K.-H.; Weidlich, E.-R.


Circuit World 36 (2010), No.4, pp.18-21
ISSN: 0305-6120
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IST ()
printed circuits; surface treatment; films (states of matter); polymer; dielectric property

Purpose- the purpose of this paper is to present details of the plasma printing and packaging technology (P3T), a new reel-to-reel technology under development for the cost and resource efficient manufacture of flexible printed circuits (FPC).
Design/methodology/approach- The first two process steps of P3T include reel-to-reel patterned activation of polymer film at ambient pressure in the so-called plasma-printing process and subsequent selective electroless plating of the plasma-activated areas of the polymer film. The concept underlying the P3T project includes processing of flexible films with widths up 400 mm.
Findings - Copper, palladium and nickel metal structures with widths down to less than 100 µm were produced on various polymers. Peel strengths according to the German DIN Standard 53494 of copper on polyimide film reached values in the region of 1N/mm, sufficient for electronic applications. Sufficient wetting of the solder on copper metallisation and solderability were found.
Research limitations/implications - P3T covers the whole manufacturing chain for FPCs from surface pattering of the dielectric carrier to component assembly and soldering. This paper focuses, however, essentially on the first two process steps including plasma activation and electroless plating.
Originality/value - A unique feature of the flexible circuit manufacturing technology presented here is the combination of the additive-technique, the absence of vacuum processes, the continuous production mode and the ability to process polymer carrier films with widths of 400 mm.