As today’s battlefield gets more and more tactical, critical communications have never been more important. And as radios and subsystems are being pushed to become smaller and even more ruggedized, it’s causing a chain reaction right down to the circuit level. Where once rigid and thick film technologies were primary go-to solutions, today’s military communication applications are requiring antennas to be even more flexible, circuits to fit into tighter spaces, and signal integrity at higher frequencies to be perfect. And to add to that, today soldiers’ vital signs are as closely monitored as a radar screen — it’s easy to understand the push towards advanced circuitry is tasking traditional thinking.
Micron-scale flexible circuits can be achieved with six or more layers high with traces (circuit lines) as narrow as 3 microns (11.81x10-5 inches). Circuits are flexible enough to wrap around objects with diameters as small as a pencil.
Typical microcircuit applications include needs for high performance sensors, electrodes, coils, resistors, inductors, conductors, and bridges.
To manufacture flexible circuits with such high-trace resolution, Metrigraphics employs a mix of proprietary and industry-standard processes. These include high-resolution photolithography as well as sputtered thin-film and plated metal deposition. Multilayer flexible circuits are constructed of several independently stacked, aligned and interconnected layers composed of very thin sputtered metal or thicker-plated metal, such as gold or copper, on polyimide substrates. Plated conductive vias connect the different layers as required. Metrigraphics offers via sizes down to a 25-micron diameter.