3D circuit boards to enhance electronics at low cost

Year 2003
Project team David Perreault

Three-dimensional patterning

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) form the backbone of many kinds of electronic systems and represent a market topping $30 billion annually. Traditionally, they have provided mechanical support for and electrical interconnections among electrical components. As component and power densities have increased, however, PCBs have taken on additional functions, such as conducting heat away from electronic components (heat sinking). Conventional circuit-board technology is not well suited for this additional functionality and is increasingly limiting the size and performance of electronic equipment. This project aims to develop an enhanced circuit board with three-dimensional patterning of one or both of the board’s outside layers. Three-dimensional circuit-board (3DCB) technology has the potential to overcome the limitations of existing PCB technology at low cost, while preserving much of the conventional manufacturing framework. This would benefit a wide range of applications in which size and power density are important, including power supplies, radio frequency and microwave circuits, and portable electronics.