Compound offering easy plating with LDS for 5G antennas
SABIC, of the chemical industry, introduced LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound, a material well suited for 5G base station dipole antennas and other electrical/electronic applications.
This new compound can help the industry develop lightweight, cost-effective, all-plastic antenna designs that facilitate deployment of 5G infrastructure. In an era of increasing urbanisation and smart cities, broad availability of 5G networking is urgently needed to provide fast, reliable connectivity for millions of residents.
“To help achieve 5G’s promise of faster speeds, increased data loads and ultra-low latency, RF antenna manufacturers are revolutionizing their designs, materials and processes,” said Joshua Chiaw, Director, Business Management, LNP & NORYL, Specialties, SABIC. “We are helping our customers simplify the production of RF antennas, which are used by the hundreds in arrays within active antenna units. Our latest high-performance LNP THERMOCOMP compound not only helps streamline manufacturing by avoiding post processing, but it can also deliver exceptional performance across multiple, critical areas. By continually developing new materials for 5G infrastructure, SABIC aims to accelerate expansion of this next-generation networking technology.”
LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound is a glass fiber-reinforced material based on polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) resin. It features excellent plating performance using laser direct structuring (LDS), strong layer adhesion, good warpage control, high heat resistance, and stable dielectric and radio frequency (RF) performance. This unique combination of properties could enable an injection moldable new dipole antenna design, offering advantages over traditional printed circuit board (PCB) assembly and the selective electroplating of plastic.
Across-the-Board Performance Benefits
The new LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound is formulated for potential use in metal plating using LDS. The material offers a wide laser processing window and both ease of plating and uniformity in plating line width to help ensure stable and consistent antenna performance. Strong adhesion between the plastic and metal layers avoids delamination, even following thermal aging and lead-free reflow soldering. Improved dimensional stability and lower warpage compared to competitive glass-reinforced PPS grades help achieve smooth fixation of the metal plating during LDS, as well as accurate assembly.
Thanks to these attributes, LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound has been listed by LPKF Laser & Electronics, a German provider of laser manufacturing solutions, as an approved thermoplastic for LDS with the company’s systems.
“All-plastic dipole antennas made with glass-reinforced PPS are replacing traditional designs because they can reduce weight, simplify assembly and deliver higher plating uniformity,” said Jenny Wang, Director, Formulation and Application, APAC, Specialties, SABIC. “However, conventional PPS materials need a complex metallization process. To address this challenge, SABIC developed a new, specialized PPS-based compound with LDS capability and high-strength bonding.”
Compared to the current complex selective electroplating of plastic, which is a widely used process involving multiple steps, LDS-enabled LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound offers greater simplicity and higher productivity. After injection molding of the part, LDS only requires laser structuring and chemical plating. In addition, the new LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound delivers all the performance benefits of glass-filled PPS, including high heat resistance for PCB assembly using surface mount technology, and inherent flame retardancy (UL-94 V0 at 0.8 mm). Low dielectric values (dielectric constant: 4.0; dissipation factor: 0.0045) and stable dielectric performance, together with good RF performance under harsh conditions, help optimize transmission and extend useful life.
“The availability of this advanced LNP THERMOCOMP OFC08V compound can contribute to improved antenna designs and consistent performance in the field, simplify the metallization process and lower system costs for our customers,” Wang added