Conformal electronics packaging through additive manufacturing and micro-dispensing
Realizing electronic systems that are conformal with curved or complex surfaces is difficult if not impossible with conventional fabrication techniques, which require rigid, two dimensional, printed circuit boards (PCB). Flexible copper based fabrication is widely available commercially providing conformance, but not simultaneously stiffness. As a result, these systems are susceptible to reliability problems if repeatedly bent or stretched. The integration of Additive Manufacturing (AM) combined with Direct Print (DP) micro-dispensing can produce shapes of arbitrary and complex form that also allows for 1) miniature cavities for insetting electronic components and 2) conductive traces for electrical interconnect between components. The fabrication freedom introduced by AM techniques such as stereolithography, ultrasonic consolidation (UC), and fused deposition modeling (FDM) have only recently been explored in the context of electronics integration. Advanced dispensing processes have been integrated into these systems allowing for the introduction of conductive inks to serve as electrical interconnect within intricately-detailed dielectric structures. To achieve full electronics integration into these conformal dielectric structures, the aforementioned technologies can be used to complement each other. This research describes a novel approach for the use of stereolithography and micro-dispensing to create conformal structures with integrated electronics and describes several successful demonstrations including a three-dimensional magnetic flux sensor with LED indicators for magnitude and direction, a power module capable of wirelessly charging a lithium polymer battery, and a body conformal helmet insert for detection of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Olivas, Richard I, "Conformal electronics packaging through additive manufacturing and micro-dispensing" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1494367.