Rapid and Cheap Technique for Micro-fabrication of Printed Circuit Boards

Applications

This technology is a printed circuit board microfabrication technique that has applications in electronic device manufacturing such as cell phones, computers, sensors, and medical devices.

Problem Addressed

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are extremely prevalent across nearly all electronic devices. As increasing demand for miniaturized electronics grows, there is an increasing need to shrink the footprint of printed circuit boards. However, miniaturization of PCBs is currently limited by the minimum trace sizes achievable with established manufacturing techniques and the high costs associated with microfabrication. This technology is a novel PCB fabrication technique that can achieve PCB miniaturization at a fraction of the costs of traditional techniques.

Technology

This technology is a fast, simple and low cost technique for micro-fabricating PCBs with copper traces down to 3 µm in width. This technique involves electrochemical etching, photolithography, and a semi-additive metallization process that is compatible with commercially available PCB substrates. This fabrication technique is rapid, cost-effective and scalable for industrial applications. Additionally, costs can be further reduced by recycling the copper removed in the electro-etching step for later reuse in the electroplating step.

Advantages

  • PCB traces as small as 3μm, which is >80% smaller than is possible with currently practiced technologies
  • Compatible with off-the-shelf PCB substrates
  • Inexpensive, rapid and scalable for industrial applications
  • Recycling of copper reduces waste and fabrication costs