PCB007 Magazine

PCB007-Oct2019

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50 PCB007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 There is no denying that additive manufactur- ing processes have been gaining popularity over the past several years. We have additive manu- facturing conferences, journals, and no end to continued research and development. Additive electronics, a segment of this technology, has also been growing in popularity, and there are several alternatives on the market that cater to quick-turn, prototype, and PCB options. Digging down into the additive electronics market, there is another important segment that is starting to build momentum: the fab- rication of feature sizes bridging subtractive- etch processing capabilities and IC-scale tech- nology. Fully additive, semi-additive (SAP), or modified semi-additive processes (mSAP) en- able fabricators to create PCBs, on flex or rigid materials, with much finer feature sizes than the traditional subtrac- tive etch processes can manufac- ture while also working with larger panel sizes than typical IC fabrication. While the con- cept of additive electronics is not new, it is new technology in terms of PCB manufacturing. I have been involved with additive electronics for the past several years, and I have seen the discussion of and demand for sub-75-micron fea- ture sizes slowly grow. Conversations, questions, and research about SAP and mSAP increased sig- nificantly when it was announced that the mSAP process was used to create the circuitry in the more recent versions of our smartphones. While this process is available in very high volume in some areas of the world, it is still in the early stages of development in other areas. In smartphone applications, it is easy to see the benefit of 35-micron line and space and the ability to shrink the circuit size to allow space for a larger battery and more sophisticated electronics. A s a s m a r t phone user, I know I appreciate t h a t larger battery! But even out- side of the Additive Electronics Momentum Flex Talk by Tara Dunn, OMNI PCB

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