Laser Direct Structuring (LDS) is a process whereby an antenna can be designed and produced onto a 3-dimensional plastic carrier. This carrier can be a separate plastic entity or an existing integral part of the customer’s product’s housing.
LDS Design Process Overview
Customer provides complete 3D files of the proposed project housing and internals
1) Design Stage
Upon project commencement, the customer should provide complete 3D files and material details of the proposed project; housing and its internals. The scope of the project is defined and agreed through close consultation with the customer to evaluate all requirements.
A system analysis is carried out to evaluate the best layout and if a separate carrier is required. Then based on the antenna requirements a hand made sample antenna can be produced onto either the customers housing or carrier or a 3D print. This antenna design is then evaluated & tested for both antenna performance and manufacturing capability. The design is then transferred into the 3D model of the housing and refined using DFA & DFM techniques before being converted into production drawing files.
2) Production Stage
The plastic housing or carrier is produced using the injection moulding process with a specially modified polymer. Following this, the part is mounted to the LDS laser application machine where the laser trace is etched onto the part. These parts are then transferred for metalization in a plating bath.
Once plated, the parts are then transferred to our quality department where each part is tested to verify both electrical performance and mechanical properties. Following this, the components are carefully packed and dispatched to the customer.
The plastic carrier is an injection moulded component, produced using a specific polymer material. These select polymer blends allow adhesion of metallic antenna traces following activation of the surface by laser. This laser activates the substrate surface generating the antenna trace shape required. The component is then selectively metalized using a chemical solution to produce the conductive traces that form the shape of the antenna.
Dynamic Trace Element
LDS is an excellent alternative to metal stamped or flexible adhesive antenna designs where the shape of the antenna is too complex or when the space allowed for placement is limited.
- The trace can be conformal to housing/carrier shape.
- The assembly process can be simplified by eliminating additional components as the antenna can be incorporated directly into housing/carrier.
- Superior to flex for complex shapes, compound curves & 3D structures.
- Very fine Trace structures are achievable (0.2mm).
- Very effective where the space for the antenna is limited.
- The trace geometry can be easily modified/tuned throughout the design process
- Colours and materials of the carrier can be limited.
- It is preferable to begin the LDS project at the early stages of customer housing design.
- The plastic housing/carrier design is the critical component.