J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 44 (2011) 435301 (9pp)
Shuo Shang, Eamonn Fearon, Dan Wellburn, Taku Sato, Stuart Edwardson, G Dearden and KG Watkins
The laser assisted direct write (LADW) method can be used to generate electrical circuitry on a substrate by depositing metallic ink and curing the ink thermally by a laser. Laser curing has emerged over recent years as a novel yet efficient alternative to oven curing. This method can be used in situ, over complicated 3D contours of large parts (e.g. aircraft wings) and selectively cure over heat sensitive substrates, with little or no thermal damage. In previous studies, empirical methods have been used to generate processing windows for this technique, relating to the several interdependent processing parameters on which the curing quality and efficiency strongly depend. Incorrect parameters can result in a track that is cured in some areas and uncured in others, or in damaged substrates. This paper addresses the strong need for a quantitative model which can systematically output the processing conditions for a given combination of ink, substrate and laser source; transforming the LADW technique from a purely empirical approach, to a simple, repeatable, mathematically sound, efficient and predictable process. The method comprises a novel and generic finite element model (FEM) that for the first time predicts the evolution of the thermal profile of the ink track during laser curing and thus generates a parametric map which indicates the most suitable combination of parameters for process optimization. Experimental data are compared with simulation results to verify the accuracy of the model.