Electronic circuits on 3D-printed parts with a laser cutter

Hi all. I’ve been working on a method to produce electronic circuits on 3D-printed parts. The basic idea is to print the part normally, put it into a standard CO2 laser cutter, which patterns the surface, then dip the part into a copper plating bath. There are commercial techniques similar to this, but none that allow the use of common CO2 laser cutters. I was able to do 0.5mm pitch no-lead and 0402 components, and the method also provides plated through-holes with no additional steps. One remaining problem with this method is that the copper adhesion to the 3D-print is really good until the soldering flux touches it, at which point, adhesion is poor.

Let me know what you think. The next steps are to fix the flux/adhesion issue, and also start exploring 5-axis control to make circuits on contoured parts.


Not sure if you ever tried laser foil, it is a foil base that has an adhesive that you use your co2 laser to adhere it to most surfaces. I don’t know how conductive it is but might work well. Tricky part is co2 lasers don’t usually burn off metals of any reasonable thickness because the spectrum is wrong and will usually just reflect off or puddle. Even aluminum foil takes a good amount of wattage to do anything to it.
Years ago Latran had a proofing system used in the printing industry and they also had metallic sheets. They used an IR laser to ablimate the sheets. There was a company that used one of their systems to ablimate metal onto surfaces for micro printed circuit boards. Another company ablimated antennas onto auto glass.

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