Soldering of Electronics Components on 3D-Printed Conductive Substrates

Materials 2021, 14(14), 3850

Rapid development of additive manufacturing and new composites materials with unique properties are promising tools for fabricating structural electronics. However, according to the typical maximum resolution of additive manufacturing methods, there is no possibility to fabricate all electrical components with these techniques. One way to produce complex structural electronic circuits is to merge 3D-printed elements with standard electronic components. Here, different soldering and surface preparation methods before soldering are tested to find the optimal method for soldering typical electronic components on conductive, 3D-printed, composite substrates. To determine the optimal soldering condition, the contact angles of solder joints fabricated in different conditions were measured. Additionally, the mechanical strength of the joints was measured using the shear force test. The research shows a possibility of fabricating strong, conductive solder joints on composites substrates prepared by additive manufacturing. The results show that mechanical cleaning and using additional flux on the composite substrates are necessary to obtain high-quality solder joints. The most repeatable joints with the highest shear strength values were obtained using reflow soldering together with low-temperature SnBiAg solder alloy. A fabricated demonstrator is a sample of the successful merging of 3D-printed structural electronics with standard electronic components.