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HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Integrated Industry

Stretchable printed circuit boards go into series production

Dynamically deformable, expandable circuit boards serve a broad and rapidly growing field of application in the electronics sector. The relatively young technology is already ready for series production.

08 Jan. 2018
Claudia Witte
HMI-ID12-080ra_ TERASEL
Stretchable printed circuit boards go into series production (Photo: TERASEL)

Electronic chips are not only smaller, but also more flexible - in the truest sense of the word. The EU research project TERASEL (Thermoplastically deformable circuits for embedded randomly shaped electronics) has developed a workable solution Conformable Electronics . The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM , Freudenberg New Technologies , Linz plastic electronic GmbH and the Penzberg high-pressure molding company, Niebling GmbH , were involved in the project led by the IMEC Center for Microsystems at the University of Ghent . The final report has already been available since last year and now specific applications and configuration are offered on the market as well, for example, at Würth Elektronik and Express Circuits or the Berlin manufacturers Andus Electronic and Contag .

Conformable electronics are printed circuit boards made of polyurethane, which can be freely deformed in three dimensions after assembly. It can be stiffened, such as for customized component assemblies in the automotive industry or made permanently stretchable, such as for integration into functional textiles or for medical applications. The material base is a highly elastic PU film. Compared to the polyimides used otherwise, the special circuits are extremely flexible, twistable, and even repeatedly extensible.

Ultimately, this technology allows completely new designs to be implemented with curved lighting or input elements. The spectrum of applications ranges from medical technology, IoT and consumer electronics, Industry 4.0, automotive, and aviation. Typical applications currently include smart bandages, textiles, and wearables.

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