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issue: November 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Technology Report
Platable Compounds


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Cybershield, Inc. is using platable compounds from RTP Company to provide custom-engineered solutions for the electronics industry.

By utilizing platable compounds from RTP Company, Cybershield's Exact(TM) Technology enables antenna, circuitry, interconnection, shielding, and thermal management solutions to be integrated into plastic housings and substrates.

Although originally performed for decorative purposes, the metallization of plastics is now being used by companies like Cybershield of Dallas, TX, U.S. to provide the effective shielding and conductivity required in modern consumer electronics devices. By utilizing a variety of platable compounds from Winona, MN, U.S.-based RTP Company, Cybershield is taking advantage of this design trend by offering electronic engineers its Exact(TM) Technology.

According to Bobby Marshall, vice president of Technology and Product Development for Cybershield, Exact Technology allows engineers to place circuits directly onto 3D surfaces of injection molded plastic. "This gives the electronics supplier the ability to increase the functionality of an existing component, or design components that were not possible prior to the introduction of this technology," Mr. Marshall explains. "By adding electrical functionality to the molded housing, it enables the electronics supplier to either increase total device capability or provide the same capability in a smaller total package. For an appliance producer, this means a lower total cost of the device, as well as a reduction in manufacturing steps."

Platable compounds from RTP are key in achieving these benefits, according to Mr. Marshall. "With RTP, we have the ability to tune an injection-molded plastic specifically to a customer's requirements, while maintaining the compatibility with our Exact Technology," he explains. "RTP has formulated compounds to provide various characteristics. The plastic can be tuned to withstand high temperature, increase adhesion of the circuits to the plastic, and provide smooth surfaces that allow for applications such as Gold Wire Bonding."

Cybershield is currently using a variety of RTP compounds in its processes, including Syndiotactic Polystyrene (SPS), Polyetherimide, Nylon 6/6, Polypropylene (PP), Liquid Crystal Polymere (LCP), and Polyetheretherketone.

According to RTP, such materials are not typical in plating applications. "Traditionally, ABS and PC/ABS are the materials that are used in plating applications," says Bob Wick, product manager of Structural Products at RTP. "RTP can provide products such as Nylon, PP, SPS, LCP, and other engineering grades of thermoplastics that have a good surface finish and adhesion. This allows customers to plate high-density circuitry using engineering grades not available otherwise," he tells APPLIANCE.

Exact Technology can be used in several appliance applications, including wireless devices, computers, sensors, and medical devices. According to Mr. Marshall of Cybershield, it can actually be used in any market that can benefit from using an injection molded plastic component as an electronic component. "Take internal metal stampings such as antennas as an example," notes Mr. Marshall. "Today, OEMs are installing as many as 4 to 5 specific antennas into a device, which requires multiple stamping and assembly tools. With Exact, it all comes installed as part of the housing."

 

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