Forschungsvereinigung Räumliche Elektronische Baugruppen 3-D MID e.V.
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Project Outline: Fast and flexible production of 3D-MID prototypes using laser-assisted AerosolJet- and SLS-Printing (3D-MID Aero Printing)

The Research Association 3-D MID is still looking for companies to accompany the project. If you are interested, please contact the office via phone (+49 911 5302-9100) or E-Mail. E-Mail to office

Research objective

The research objective is to develop a process chain for the production of highly integrated 3D-MID components using laser-based AerosolJet and 3D printing (SLS). In order to enable the manufacturability of filigree conductor path structures, different laser-based surface treatment strategies are investigated and characterized. Furthermore, the influence of the surface treatment on the adhesive strength and current carrying capacity of the conductors is investigated.


In contrast to classic printed circuit board technology, 3D-MID technology can combine mechanical and electrical functions in one molded part. This results in enormous technical rationalization potentials in terms of material usage and process chain as well as environmental compatibility. However, established processes such as laser direct structuring (LDS) of injection-molded base bodies are only economical for medium to large volumes, since every change in the component geometry requires a change of costly molds. In addition, the process-related metallization of the molded parts cannot do without the use of laser-activatable additives. As the drive for increasing functional integration and variant flexibility remains strong, a fast process based on additive printing processes would be desirable.


Printing techniques such as the aerosol jet process can be used to additively generate functional (electrically conductive) structures that are particularly suitable in terms of miniaturization due to a minimum track width of 20 μm. By combining the process with selective laser sintering (SLS) for additive manufacturing of the molded parts, the different surface properties resulting from the process can be specifically adjusted for high-resolution and flexible application of conductive tracks using aerosol jet printing. The challenge here is to create filigree cavities and vias to enable the production of enclosures or housings for electronic components. The processing of the molded parts is to be carried out by means of suitable laser irradiation. The sintering of the conductive tracks is also carried out by laser and, in contrast to a global furnace process, ensures no or low temperature exposure to protect the electronic components. To demonstrate functional integration, the base bodies are fitted with functional components (e.g. SMDs) and examined by means of mechanical stress tests due to thermally induced residual stresses caused by the process.


Planned work steps: Within the scope of the project, an iterative process chain is to be developed, which consists of the production of the molded part by means of SLS, laser-based through-hole plating of the areas to be printed with conductor tracks, conductor track printing by means of aerosol jet including laser-based sintering, and the placement of components and their contacting by means of laser soldering. The focus here is on the investigation of suitable laser-based methods for the production of cavities that meet the high requirements of the aerosol jet process. With regard to a flexible process design (e.g. in a common facility), the processing of the different laser-based process steps by means of an identical beam source will be tested and investigated. In particular, nanoparticle-containing inks made of silver and copper are to be used to generate the conductive tracks in order to meet the requirements with regard to miniaturization. With regard to the possible application of the generated MID components in demanding environments (e.g. in automotive engineering or medical technology), substrate materials with high stiffness, temperature and chemical resistance (e.g. PA filled/unfilled, PEEK) will be used for the investigations.

Benefits and economic importance for SMEs

  • Fast and flexible production of filigree conductor paths, even on components manufactured with additives, without the need for molding tools, expands the range of applications for MIDs in prototype and small-batch production.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers of MIDs can extend the field of application to additive-manufactured, chemical-resistant (e.g. PA6) components with a view to more cost-effective and shorter time-to-market production without time-consuming furnace sintering.
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