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72 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2024 Interview by Barry Matties I-CONNECT007 This issue of PCB007 Magazine is focused on additive technology for PCB fabrication and the associated supply chain, and discussion of technologies that could make the traditional PCB as we know it less relevant. Plastronics—the marriage between electronics and plastics—falls into that category. The automotive industry is pushing hard for it, and an IPC commit- tee is creating standards for it. In this interview with Fran Fourcade, IPC electronics technology stan- dards manager, he looks toward the future of 3D plastronics, or in-mold electronics (IME). Barry Matties: Francisco, can you explain this new and innovative set of technologies many people may not know much about? Francisco Fourcade: 3D plastronics refers to the set of technologies used to functionalize surfaces in 3D-molded structures. Over the past decades, some have been widely used as antennas and connectors in a variety of products, while in present times the technologies have evolved into many solutions that open the design limitations on surface functional- Plastronics and New IPC Guidelines for In-mold Electronics (IME) ization of structures such as LSA-MID (laser surface activated molded inter- connected device or 3D-MID/LDS), IME (in-mold electronics), 3D direct deposi- tion (aerosol or inkjet printing), or LIFT (laser induced forward transfer). These technologies are suitable for a variety of applications and represent certain advantages and disadvantages with respect to each other. I will use the example of the in-mold electronics as we are gearing to pub- lish the first IPC standard. This particu- lar manufacturing technology merges printed elec- tronics and injection molding. Due to the nature and simplicity of both processes, it is especially attrac- tive given the mass manufacturing possibilities it offers to provide cost-friendly solutions. The auto- motive industry has been pushing this technology forward to significantly reduce cost, weight, waste, and energy needed to produce automotive inte- rior parts. Traditionally, you would have a PCB built and placed into a plastic molding with mechanical features that would interact with the PCB sensors, whereas in IME, your mechatronic device incorpo- rates, in most cases, both electronics components and circuitry into the finished 3D molded part. Read the full interview here. Francisco Fourcade

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