WEB EXCLUSIVE: Laser direct structuring (LDS) is a powerful technology for adding electrical circuit paths to plastics electronic products such as mobile phone and notebook antennas or molded interconnect devices (MIDs). But up to now, LDS-ready plastics were limited mainly to black. Now SABIC Innovative Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., has come up with its first custom-colorable material for LDS. LNP Thermocomp NX11302 is a specialty PC/ABS compound suitable for applications like LEDs and connectors.
LDS is made possible by formulation technology from LPKF Laser & Electronics AG in Germany (U.S. office in Tualatin, Ore.). Its approach involves compounding a special additive into the plastic. Then, specialized lasers are used to scribe the circuit layout onto the plastic part. The laser light activates the additive (an organic metal complex) so that it will accept electroplated copper and also roughens the plastic surface to help the plating adhere.
While SABIC was the first to announce colorable LDS-ready compounds, it was soon followed by Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics (MEP America, N.Y.C.). It brought out Xantar LDS 3723 PC/ABS for mobile-phone housings and other telecom devices, as well as Xantar LDS 3733 PC for antennas.