At International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS 2015) event held in October month , imec and CMST (imec’s associated lab at Ghent University) presented a tech to make thermoplastically deformable electronics enabling low-cost 2.5D free-form rigid electronic objects. This technology is under evaluation by Philips for use in LED lamp carriers.
The thermoplastically deformable electronic circuits help in fabricating novel lamp designs as well as smart applications in ambient intelligence and wearables.
"The innovative technology is based on meander-shaped interconnects, a robust technique to realize dynamically stretchable elastic electronic circuits including LEDs. These are then embedded in thermoplastic polymers (e.g. polycarbonate). Following production on a flat substrate, using standard printed circuit board production equipment, the circuit is given its final form using thermoforming techniques such as vacuum forming, high pressure forming or even injection molding. Upon cooling, the thermoplastic retains its shape without inducing large internal stresses in the circuits. The method, based on standard available production processes, does not require large investments, reducing the cost of fabrication. The resulting designs have a low weight and low complexity, a high resilience, a low tooling and material cost, and a higher degree of manufacturer independence due to the standard industrial practices that are used." explains Imec in its release.
Picture above: Miniature LED dome test vehicle with integrated low power LEDs. (a) Device before forming. (b) Device after vacuum forming using a 40 mm half sphere.