May 17, 2012
As much as I like 3D printing, it isn’t the only type of rapid prototyping around. It’s just as important to work out the kinks in printed circuit boards (PCB) early in the design process rather than wait until the last minute and make expensive changes. We first covered LPKF all the way back here.
Today we’ll take a look at LPKF’s new system, the ProtoLaser U3, which will be shown off at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS). For those interested in attending IMS, it’ll be running June 17-22 inMontréal,Canada.
LPKF calls the ProtoLaser U3 a, “Multipurpose UV Laser System,” capable of working with a range of materials including ceramic, LTCC (green tape), FR4, Rogers, protective sheets, and metal foils along with flexible or flex-rigid materials. The system also includes automatic tool change, solder paste dispensing and automatic milling depth adjustment.
According to the company, the use of a laser makes the ProtoLaser U3 a safe choice for use in a laboratory:
“The laser process itself stands out from competing processes due to its high flexibility and fast processing. The laser uses no environmentally hazardous chemicals, requires no masks and keeps outlay for tool production to a minimum. The laser works contact-free and therefore can also be used with sensitive materials.”
The ProtoLaser U3 can also be used to separate individual circuit boards from large printed boards, cut LTCC and prepregs, drill holes and microvias or structures FR4 substrates. According to the company, the new system is the only UV laser machine that can structure laminated substrates.
LPKF says it has designed the ProtoLaser U3 to be compact, with a footprint of 875 x 1,430 x 750 mm (34.5 x 56.3 x 29.5 in.). The maximum material size and layout area is 229 x 305 x 7 mm (9 x 12 x 0.27 in.), with a resolution scanfield of 2 µm and repeatability of ± 2 µm.
Although I don’t have a video of the ProtoLaser U3 to show you, below you’ll find a presentation of the ProtoLaser S to give you some idea of what the laser system looks like.