What does color have to do with laser plastic welding? Everything. Especially if your consumer brand of audio earbuds is recognized globally by its distinctive shade of white, or if your customers expect classy, glossy black appointments on their luxury automobiles. The fact is, there are a lot of very cool things you can do with colors and other additives in the laser plastic welding process, especially in the automotive and consumer product industry – but many designers and engineers aren’t aware of these capabilities. We’ll enlighten you now about the plethora of possibilities and how we can help you add color to your product designs.
How will the heat generated by a laser beam affect my board and components during depaneling? Will it melt edge components into an ugly heap? Or demolish thin flex materials into an unrecognizable blob? We get these worst case scenario questions all the time from PCB designers and manufacturers who have relied on mechanical routers, manual cutters, and other traditional depaneling machines throughout their careers. So it is no wonder that there’s an ongoing concern about a laser’s heat affective zone (HAZ), and the thermal effect on edge components in particular.
Flexibility is a good thing if you’re an Olympic gymnast or Cirque du Soleil performer – and it’s essential for PCB designers and manufacturers whose prototypes and end products demand precision etching on flex PCB materials. For the past 40 years, standard mechanical PCB milling systems have been the tools of choice for straightforward milling operations, and in some cases, they’ve been great performers for flex PCB etching as well. LPKF’s top-performing ProtoMat mechanical PCB milling systems, for example, feature faster spindle speeds, low runout and high resolution for working with substrates as thin as 5 mil for single-sided designs and traces, and spacing as small as 4 mil. All good stuff, so how could it get even better? Laser.
It seems like there are more myths about UV laser depaneling than there are about the Loch Ness Monster. But unlike old Nessie, UV laser depaneling myths are much easier to debunk.
With traditional vibration welding methods, welding ribs are the ugly stepsisters that designers and manufacturers have learned to live with as a tradeoff to making attractive, aesthetically pleasing translucent plastic components. Any type of friction weld – vibration, ultrasonic, or RF welding – regardless of the vibration frequency, causes the two plastic components being joined to have welding ribs, or molded ridges that are melted by friction as the two parts are welded together to create the bond. Frankly, the result is not pretty and a detriment to producing an attractive, strong seam.