LCP, or liquid crystal polymer, is a relatively new material type emerging in the printed circuit board manufacturing market and is developing a strong presence. For those of you that are not familiar with this material, we will summarize some of the key characteristics.
LCP is a unique thermoplastic material that can be used to manufacture multilayer printed circuit boards. This material is very thin (1, 2 and 4 mil cores), flexible, lightweight, has very low moisture absorption as well as a high chemical resistance. LCP also possesses excellent electrical properties including low loss and a stable dielectric constant that make it ideal for high-frequency and mm-wave type applications, especially those that can benefit from the thin, light-weight cores.
Walt Stender, CEO, notes “Coast to Coast is currently in the manufacturing leadership position with LCP having started to work with this material before there was even an official specification sheet.” Jeff Schmitt, Director of Engineering Services adds, “This journey has been accompanied by numerous challenges. After a thorough assessment of these difficulties, we are pleased that we were able to become involved with this emerging technology because it has allowed us to assist our customers in ways we could not imagine in years prior. Recently, we have had one of our key defense customers utilize this material in a major aerospace project that is now ramping up to production levels. It is gratifying to be able to deliver product to a customer in production quantities with yields and complexities only dreamed of more than 7 years ago when we first engaged with this customer on this unique material platform.” Jeff also noted that “Coast to Coast Circuits has made boards for dozens of applications from aerospace to semiconductor. It takes several man-years of process development in order to manufacture complex multilayer LCP boards with predictable yields.”
Recently, we have noticed additional interest from customers in different market segments desiring this high performance material, including the automotive industry. It is also very exciting to see an increase in production volumes with customers in the semiconductor and aerospace industries utilizing this specialty material. With many developmental efforts starting to pay off, Coast to Coast is becoming involved with more designs upfront. Early involvement with customers and their engineering teams is critical to reducing cycle-time as Coast to Coast has resolved many issues that can surface as a result of minimal LCP experience. Since this is a unique material, a good understanding of the challenges in manufacturing can help tremendously in the design phase.
During the past years, we have solved problems for more than 20 different customers in multiple industries as they move to designs that demand LCP. These projects involved customers in various industries including defense, aerospace, medical, automotive, semiconductor as well as several universities and other research organizations.
We hope to expand this offering to more customers and we encourage you to reach out to the Coast to Coast Circuits, Inc. team to discuss this material and its benefits. Part of the renewed interest has been demonstrated during the LCP introductory and design guideline presentations we have given to our customers and potential customers over the past few weeks and we are more than willing to present this information to other organizations that are interested. This is an exhilarating time for the industry and this new material and we are glad we are in a position to move it forward. Please contact us for an onsite lunch and learn LCP presentation, we are happy to share our years of LCP experience in order to make your designs successful.