"Nearly 20 percent of LPKF’s workforce is engaged in research and development.This ensuresour technological leadership and expands our product portfolio." This is how CEO Dr. Ingo Bretthauer explains the product offensive of the engineering company situated in Garbsen, Germany. At the productronica in Munich from November 12-15, LPKF presented new products from different business areas.

LPKF ProtoMat D104

A spectacular new development is the ProtoMat D104. ProtoMats are circuit board plotters which carve circuit tracks out of fully coated base materials by negative contour routing. They are able to change tools automatically, perform contour milling, and drill PCB vias. The new ProtoMat D104 is upgraded with an additional special tool: a laser that extends the processing range to special sensitive materials and allows structures down to the ultra fine pitch. Depending on the material the laser structures with a pitch of 100 microns (50 microns line / 50 micron space) in-house. Ceramics can also be processed using the laser tool.

Since the laser is only used for sensitive or very fine structures, the ProtoMat D104 combines the precision of the laser with the mechanical skills of a highly developed milling/drilling system. The ProtoMat D104 is designed for operation in ambitious laboratories and development environments.

LDS prototyping

3D-circuit carriers have gained considerable market share in recent years especially in the antenna technology and have opened new product categories. 3D plastic components with circuitry can now also be found in the automotive industry, medical technology and in LED design. The laser direct structuring (LDS) has the largest share in this success.

One of the barriers was previously the time-consuming and costly prototyping for installation trials and functional tests. LPKF now offers a consistent procedure and the related systems which ideally allow LDS prototyping within a day.

To create the basic component, a conventional 3D printer is used. The LDS coating is performed by a special 2 component paint. At productronica LPKF launches the ProtoPaint LDS in a spray can, which replaces the former method with spray gun. The advantage of the new solution: usually one thorough coating is sufficient to apply the LDS layer. So far, three to four passes were required.

The activation of the component is done by the new ProtoLaser 3D. It has a large, height-adjustable working platform and a laser optic, which corresponds to the ones used in production systems. Therefore, the ProtoLaser 3D can be used for series-like 3D rapid prototyping and also serves well for process optimization. The ProtoLaser 3D is based on the proven ProtoLaser concept, where the working chamber is housed vibration-decoupled in a compact body.

The third step for LDS Prototyping is the metallization: LPKF ProtoPlate LDS consists of an ergonomically designed housing with the necessary technology and separately to be process chemicals ProtoPlate CU. ProtoPlate CU is delivered. ProtoPlate CU is delivered as a package with all necessary consumables.

First, the metallization bath is brought to process temperature in the ProtoPlate system, then the pre-portioned activator is added. The structured components are suspended in this bath. Depending on the duration, copper layers build up between 3 microns and 15 microns. No chemistry knowledge is required for this process.

MicroLine 2000 Si

Not only has the appearance been changed, but also the inside. With the MicroLine 2000 Si, LPKF shows a new laser system for the separation of bare and assembled, rigid, and flexible PCB materials. This PCB processing system can be ordered with different laser sources - 6 or 12 watts. A faster fiducial registration and the optimized dynamics are guarantee for a faster machining process. The advanced machine software facilitates the setup of production processes with high variance.

The brand new system LPKF MicroLine 2820 SI is inline-capable and can be integrated directly into the production line thanks to a SMEMA interface.