Act-3D aims to provide an overview of the technologies to realize electronic tracks on plastic substrates and suitable interconnection technologies. The project will make it possible to test a multitude of combinations, the most suitable of which will be included in a document that will serve as a guide for companies.

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ACT-3D - Assembly and connection technology for 3D Plastic Circuit Carriers

The ongoing digitalization leads to a change of existing systems. Through synergetic interaction of different disciplines, mechatronic systems emerge. Reduction of costs, miniaturization, new materials and integrated signal processing of sensor data enable the development of new, innovative and intelligent products. State of the art for circuit carriers used in these products are printed circuit boards (PCBs), which offer features like multilayer setup, vias between layers and fine structures to connect highly integrated semiconductor chips. The main disadvantages of this technology are the limited design options, because PCBs can only be manufactured in planar structures.

With three-dimensional plastic electronics, mechanical and electrical functions are merged onto a three dimensional circuit carrier. Known restrictions of PCBs are broken and the development of new and ground-breaking products are possible. By the third dimension and the use of a plastic as substrate material, integration density can be increased and new concepts, like the integration of electronics directly in the housing of a product, can be achieved. The market of 3D plastic electronics is large and different application fields like medical products, automotive electronics and consumer electronics are possible target markets. In general, the setup for 3D plastic electronics is the same; on a plastic substrate, the metallization for electrical circuits is created and afterwards it is assembled and connected with electrical components.

However, there are several different materials for the substrate and different techniques for the metallization as well as different assembly and connection technologies. While not all technologies and materials can be combined freely, the number of possible combinations is nearly endless. Furthermore, strong independencies between material, processes and process steps can occur. These challenges make it nearly impossible for small and medium sizes enterprises (SMEs) to choose a suitable combination of materials and technologies for developing products in the context of their use case.

To enable SMEs to develop and manufacture products, which contain three-dimensional plastic electronics, the goal of this project is to create a comprehensive guideline of suitable combinations of materials and technologies. Therefore, as a result of a workshop with the user committee, a preselection of materials and technologies will be done. Especially new and innovative materials and technologies will be taken into account. Different substrate materials and metallization techniques as well as connection and assembly technologies will be analysed and optimized in the context of different use cases. The resulting suitable process chains as well as the relevant process parameters will be documented in the guideline. Based on this guideline, demonstrators for chosen use cases of the user committee will be developed, manufactured and validated.

Project lead:

  • Hahn-Schickard

Project partners:

  • Fraunhofer IEM
  • Sirris
  • UHasselt - imo-imomec


prof. dr. ir. Wim Deferme

Wim Deferme 12
Wetenschapspark 1, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium

dr. Lieve De Doncker

dr. Lieve De Doncker
Wetenschapspark 1, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Business developer