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News

Metallisation of 3D Moulded Interconnect Devices (MIDs) creates three-dimensional connections with multiple contacts

SelectConnect Technologies : 09 February, 2010  (Application Story)
The two-shot moulding process produces MIDs from a combination of plateable and non-plateable injection moulded resins. A non-plateable polymer is moulded in the first shot and is then selectively moulded with a second plateable material, leaving specified areas exposed. An etching step then activates the exposed areas of plateable polymer so that those areas can be plated with metal.
Metallisation of 3D Moulded Interconnect Devices (MIDs) creates three-dimensional connections with multiple contacts
When the Insulet Corporation, an innovative medical device company, sought to improve the functionality of its OmniPod Insulin Management System, it partnered with Phillips Plastics Corporation to create an optimally performing internal plastic component called the “chassis.” Phillips Plastics injection moulded the chassis using two-shot moulding and Insulet chose SelectConnect Technologies to provide the metallisation, an integral step in completing the 3D Moulded Interconnect Device (MID). SelectConnect Technologies utilises a patented SelectConnect process to selectively plate injection moulded parts with copper and nickel in order to create three-dimensional connections with multiple points of contact.

The chassis is a critical component of the OmniPod, a small, lightweight, tubing-free insulin pump worn on the skin, which delivers insulin according to instructions transmitted wirelessly from the system’s hand-held Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM). 3D-MID technology enables the chassis to provide mechanical support and electrical connectivity in the device. And, because MIDs require reduced space, they allow for the integration of more electronic functions. The need for multiple different parts that would complicate assembly and increase the size of the device is eliminated.

Phillips determined that two-shot moulding would be the best process to manufacture the chassis. The process produces MIDs from a combination of plateable and non-plateable injection moulded resins. A non-plateable polymer is moulded in the first shot and is then selectively moulded with a second plateable material, leaving specified areas exposed. An etching step then activates the exposed areas of plateable polymer so that those areas can be plated with metal.

Once Phillips completed the injection moulding, the finished chassis came to SelectConnect Technologies for metallisation. Rich Macary, General Manager of SelectConnect Technologies explained, “Our SelectConnect metallisation process is unique in that it allows us to control the metal deposition process to produce fine electronic traces with high resolution and yield. Once we receive the moulded parts, we then build electroless copper, electroless nickel, and immersion gold traces on the structured patterns to form the circuit path. It allows the circuitry to be incorporated directly onto the plastic component, offering a wide range of innovative design possibilities including the opportunity for miniaturisation, parts consolidation, reduced assembly time, and cost reduction.”

For the chassis, SelectConnect uses 250 micro inches (6.25 microns) of electroless copper. This thickness is required to get a good conductive path throughout the part. A thin layer [50 micro inches (1.25 microns)] of nickel is then added on top of the copper to create a barrier layer that prevents the copper from oxidising before the entire assembly is press-fit into a circuit board.

In addition to providing metallisation for two-shot moulded MIDs, SelectConnect Technologies also does Laser Direct Structuring (LDS) of one-shot injection moulded components. The component is moulded from a commercially available doped thermoplastic, laser traced to write the circuit-layout onto the component, and then metallised with copper, nickel and gold. The LDS process is ideal for transferring circuit artwork directly onto three-dimensional components.
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