Regardless of the shape of a printed circuit board (PCB), they are all flat and often stacked on top of each other in an electronic device or mounting rack.
This traditional design has worked well, but as new products are designed with needs for smaller PCB’s in more unusual enclosures, flat and stacked PCB’s no longer provide an adequate design solution.
Miniaturization is also pushing electronics engineers to design components with multiple purposes. Components need to do their primary function and provide added-value such as serving as a structural component to strengthen the device.
To address design needs, Army researchers have reimagined the printed circuit board design into a tube shape with all of the commonly embedded components including resistors, capacitors and inductors typical of flat PCB’s.
The tubular PCB is made from flexible conductive, ply, and dielectric layers with common vertical interconnect accesses connecting electrical components with the conductive layer.
The method for producing this novel board involves a titanium rod that can be various lengths for the production of multiple boards. The rod has several shallow channels machined into its surface to facilitate the vacuum lamination process.
It can easily withstand submersion in chemical etchant, stripping, and plating baths. The various layers of the board are built on the rod by the wrapping, etching, or photoengraving of thin films.
- Greatly broadens the design latitude of electronics engineers
- Adaptor elements are designed to affix flat electrical components to the curved surface
- Traditional processes including plating, screening, masking, imaging, etching, bonding, cavity formation, backfilling, machining, and curing operations are easily accommodated
- Additional non-planar designs are protected under the patent
- US patent 9,204,547 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Army researchers