Laser Marking Systems for the Fabricaton of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are used in almost every type of electronic equipment in the 21st century. The value of PCBs manufactured in the United States in October 2011 was $24 billion, according to IPC, formerly the Institute for Printed Circuits. The boards can be fabricated in several different ways, but few are as accurate, rapid and cost effective as non-contact, PCB laser marking.
This revolutionary method of engraving uses the latest in laser marking technology, and offers new options to the manufacturers of short run and prototype medical devices, automotive and aerospace industries. Laser Marking Systems for the production of printed circuit boards is still in the early stages, but laser marking technology is ideal for PCB fabrication. The process does not use any inks, acids or other toxic solvents.
Micro Laser Machining Fabrication Process
PCB laser micro-machining represents an advanced application of the latest developments in laser marking technology. Micro laser machining works by exposing focus areas of the PCB to brief bursts of light, which is highly concentrated and carefully controlled. Selective removal can be done on a variety of materials, including copper and other metals that are typically used for PCB production.
The laser marking system works by passing the laser beam over the surface of the PCB, which usually remains stationary during PCB laser micro machining. The direction, speed and spread of the beam are controlled by a computer to selectively remove material leaving the required pattern on the surface. The energy contained in the laser beam results in a change in the composition of the material and it is released from the PCB’s surface by the laser energy, either by evaporation or by powdering and flaking off leaving fine debris. The fumes, out gassing and fine debris can be controlled and removed from the work area by use of a fume extraction system.
The technology of PCB laser marking differs from older methods of PCB engraving in that masking of the area around the laser engraving is not required. The program controlling the laser marking system manages the position of the beam precisely, which eliminates the need to use a resistive mask to prevent the beam deviating from the pattern. Although it remains necessary to process the PCB after laser marking using a solvent-based washout method, the cost efficiencies of using non-contact laser marking technology begin with the mask.
Benefits of Laser Marking
Cost savings of the new laser marking technology and its use in PCB laser marking are quantifiable. The reduced expenditure resulting from decreased use of consumables, along with reduced fabrication times and lower labor costs, offers a real improvement in production costs. Add to this reduced equipment wear and tear because of the non-abrasive laser marking technology, and the manufacturing of short run PCBs becomes significantly more profitable.
Additional benefits of using PCB laser marking include durability of the design, which has been found to be as durable as conventional methods. Micro laser machining is an environmentally friendly production process, free of toxic substances, inks and acids, and resistance to high temperatures.
The ease of creating rapid changes in design, the superb reproduction of the original engineered concept and the user-friendly method of consistent reproduction remains the most compelling reason to change to PCB micro laser machining.
For more information on how laser marking technology can help your business, contact LaserStar Technologies today!