Within the microelectronic, medical device, automotive and aerospace industries, definition of conductor paths or removal of insulation are common requirements. Thin coatings of materials; typically polymers, are used to provide electrical insulation, biocompatibility or harsh environment protection for advanced technology devices. These protective materials usually adhere and conform to the 3-dimensional parts they are protecting, and the typical application techniques provide very little opportunity to leave areas of the part un-coated. Historically, the most common approach to removing areas of coating has been to apply a physical mask in the form of a tape or film prior to coating, or to define the shape perimeter with a blade and then peel off the coating as a post-processing step. More recently, laser systems offering fast, efficient and highly precise alternative methods that produce high part quality have become available.
Similarly, thin coatings of conducting materials, typically gold, alloys and ITO are used to provide electrical connections. Selective removal of these films to provide electrical isolation, or to define a particular circuit
path is a common manufacturing process. Laser systems are not only a fast and efficient production technique, they offer the flexibility to modify pattern shape and circuit design by a simple change to the processing program, eliminating the need for slow and costly changes to mask and tool sets.
In both applications, avoiding any damage to the underlying substrate as the top material is removed is a critical requirement. Because materials behave differently with various laser parameters (wavelength, pulse energy, pulse duration, fluence, repetition rate etc.), careful selection of laser type and operating conditions is required.
IPG Application Labs boast an outstanding team of Ph.D. material scientists devoted to optimizing these processes.
IPG’s UV Ablation and fully automated Polymer Film Cutter high volume production systems are ideal micromachining workstations for selective material removal.