Patent application title: SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR COMPOSITE STRUCTURES WITH EMBEDDED INTERCONNECTS
Thomas A. Olden (Tucson, AZ, US)
Walter Wrigglesworth (Tucson, AZ, US)
IPC8 Class: AH05K109FI
Class name: Preformed panel circuit arrangement (e.g., printed circuit) with particular material conducting (e.g., ink)
Publication date: 2011-02-03
Patent application number: 20110024165
A composite interconnect assembly includes a body structure formed from a
composite material (e.g., a carbon graphite material) with one or more
conductive traces embedded therein (e.g., a copper or copper alloy). One
or more contact regions are provided such that the conductive traces are
exposed and are configured to mechanically and electrically connect to
one or more electronic components. The body structure may have a variety
of shapes, including planar, cylindrical, conical, and the like.
1. A composite interconnect assembly comprising:a body structure
comprising a composite material;a conductive trace embedded within the
body structure;a contact region defined on the body structure such that
the conductive trace is exposed and is configured to mechanically and
electrically connect to an external electronic component.
2. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the body is generally planar.
3. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 2, wherein the body structure has a thickness of less than approximately 1.5 mm.
4. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the body structure is generally tubular.
5. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the composite material is a carbon graphite material.
6. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the conductive trace comprises copper.
7. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the contact region is an opening in the body structure extending to the conductive trace.
8. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the contact region is a bond pad substantially flush with the body structure.
9. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the contact region is a through-hole structure.
10. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of conductive traces configured within multiple levels.
11. The composite interconnect assembly of claim 1, wherein the body structure comprises at least two layers.
12. A method of making a composite interconnect assembly, comprising:forming a body structure comprising a composite material;embedding a conductive trace within the body structure;defining a contact region on the body structure such that the conductive trace is exposed and is configured to mechanically and electrically connect to an external electronic component.
13. The method of claim 12, including forming the body generally planar.
14. The method of claim 12, including forming the body structure such that it has a thickness of less than approximately 1.5 mm.
15. The method of claim 12, including forming the body structure generally tubular.
16. The method of claim 12, wherein the composite material is a carbon graphite material.
17. The method of claim 12, wherein the conductive trace comprises copper.
18. The method of claim 12, wherein the contact region is an opening in the body structure extending to the conductive trace.
19. The method of claim 12, further including forming a plurality of conductive traces within multiple levels of the body structure.
20. A composite interconnect assembly comprising:a body structure comprising a composite material having a plurality of levels;a plurality of conductive traces embedded within the plurality of levels;a plurality of contact regions defined on a surface of the body structure such that at least a portion of the plurality of conductive traces are exposed and are configured to mechanically and electrically connect to an external electronic component.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/230,559, filed Jul. 31, 2009.
The present invention generally relates to printed circuit boards and other interconnect structures used for mounting and connecting electrical components.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are widely used many industries, and typically consist of laminate structures with one or more levels of metallization or other conductors to interconnect the components attached to the board. Commonly known boards, however, are unsatisfactory in a number of respects.
For example, because standard PCBs do not exhibit significant structural strength and are prone to bending, torsion, and buckling, it is typically necessary to provide an additional rigid structure for mounting to the PCB. This adds weight, manufacturing cost, and complexity.
Furthermore, standard PCBs, even in automated processes, often require significant human handling. Such processes are time-consuming, expensive, and can significantly increase the amount of foreign object debris (FOD) that enters the system.
Finally, standard PCBs are generally planar, and thus for any given mounting area they typically limit the range of enclosure shapes and sizes that a designer may employ.
Accordingly, it is desirable to provide improved interconnect structures that have structural strength, can be formed in a variety of shapes, and reduce human interaction during component mounting. Other desirable features and characteristics of the present invention will become apparent from the subsequent detailed description and the appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and the foregoing technical field and background.
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a composite interconnect assembly includes a body structure comprising a composite material (e.g., a carbon graphite material) with one or more conductive traces embedded therein (e.g., a copper or copper alloy). One or more contact regions are provided such that the conductive traces are exposed and are configured to mechanically and electrically connect to one or more electronic components. The body structure may have a variety of shapes, including planar, cylindrical, conical, and the like.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description and claims when considered in conjunction with the following figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar elements throughout the figures.
FIG. 1 is a conceptual isometric view of a composite assembly in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a conceptual isometric view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 3 is a cross-section of one embodiment of the present invention.
The following discussion generally relates to improved methods and apparatus for removing connectors from circuit card assemblies. In that regard, the following detailed description is merely illustrative in nature and is not intended to limit the invention or the application and uses of the invention. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any expressed or implied theory presented in the preceding technical field, background, brief summary or the following detailed description. In the interest of brevity, conventionally known techniques and principles relating to composites, interconnects, and the like need not be described herein.
Referring now to FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a composite assembly 100 generally includes electrical traces, interconnects, wires, or any other conductive connector 104 (collectively referred to as "traces") incorporated, molded into, embedded, or otherwise formed within a composite material structure (or "body structure") 102.
Holes, vias, contacts, or other contact structures 106 to which components can be mechanically and electrically connected are also provided within body 102, and allow for contact to respective sections of traces 104. A variety of electronic components may be mounting to structure 102, including microcontrollers, power semiconductors, or any other electronic component now known or later developed.
The term "composite" as used herein with respect to body 102 generally refers to materials that are engineered from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that remain separate and distinct on a macroscopic level. Such composite materials include, for example, conventional carbon graphite materials as well as any other suitable composite material now known or later developed, such as fiber-reinforced polymers (FRPs), metal matrix composites (MMC), cermets, and the like.
The material used for the electrical traces might include any suitable conductive material, including metals, semiconductors (e.g., polysilicon), or the like. In a preferred embodiment, the traces comprise a copper or copper alloy.
The composite assembly may be produced in a variety of ways. For example, body 102 may be formed around traces 104 (e.g., via molding). In another embodiment, traces 104 are inserted into or sandwiched between multiple layers of composite structures. In this regard, while the illustrated embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2 depict a single layer of conductive traces, the invention is not so limited, and may include any number of trace layers. FIG. 3, for example, shows a multiple trace layers as well as multiple layers of composite structure 102 that are suitably bonding together.
Traces 104 may be formed, for example, by common metal deposition methods or masking operations, depending upon the nature of the conductor used. In an example embodiment, the traces 104 and related contacts are designed a software tool, such as the Gerber Plotting System. Subsequently, conventional transfer methods are used to apply the traces, etching away any excess material.
Openings 106 may be configured to receive individual leads, flanges, or conductive bumps associated with the components to be attached, or may be configured to allow components to be fully or partially recessed within a cavity within structure 104. In this way, the opening may expose sections of traces 104 that correspond to the configuration of respective leads on the mounted components.
The composite assembly may have a variety of shapes, including planar, circular, cylindrical, spherical, hemispherical, or any curvilinear manifold structure. In one embodiment, for example, the composite assembly is planar and has openings to receive electrical components. Leads from the electrical components project from one side of the assembly, and may then be soldered to the electrical traces via the desired bonding method, (e.g., solder paste or metal alloy solders). The projecting leads may then be clipped in the conventional manner.
In an alternate embodiment, shown in FIG. 2, the assembly is substantially in the shape of a tube (e.g., a hollow cylinder), in which the electrical components are inserted radially from the outer perimeter toward the interior (e.g., in holes or openings provided for that purpose). The components are then electrically connected and finished in any suitable manner.
The various composite structures of the present invention provide a number of advantages over traditional PCB boards. For example, composite materials are relatively strong and have a high yield strength. As a result, it is not necessary to build a supporting rigid structure to accompany it.
The thickness of the composite structure may be relatively low, given the structural integrity of the material used. That is, interconnect structures can be made significantly thinner using this technology than is the case with standard PCBs, e.g., less than about 1.5 mm.
Furthermore, as the structure can be formed in a number of shapes, it can be inserted into tight spaces--e.g., typical conical or cylindrical enclosures common in missiles, rockets, and other aeronautical structures. In one embodiment, a DAC (divert attitude control) assembly of the type used in connection with ballistic missiles, kill vehicles, and the like includes a composite assembly as described.
In addition, the electrical circuit can be validated before a mission has started, eliminating hand soldering and FOD issues. Alignment, tolerances, and repeatability of the assembly are also enhanced.
While at least one example embodiment has been presented in the foregoing detailed description, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the example embodiment or embodiments described herein are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the foregoing detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient and edifying road map for implementing the described embodiment or embodiments. It should be understood that various changes can be made in the function and arrangement of elements without departing from the scope of the invention and the legal equivalents thereof.
Patent applications by Thomas A. Olden, Tucson, AZ US
Patent applications by Walter Wrigglesworth, Tucson, AZ US
Patent applications by Raytheon Company
Patent applications in class Conducting (e.g., ink)
Patent applications in all subclasses Conducting (e.g., ink)