Complex electronics are getting smaller all the time. In the case of microphones, smaller versions for performers mean less interference with their ability to move and act as the role demands. The company wanted to further miniaturize their microphone products, which required developing smaller printed circuit boards (PCB) and redesigning their housings. The housings had to be the smallest possible size to stabilize the boards while providing adequate gap tolerances so the electronics would not be disturbed.
Manual measurements could not assure the required accuracy, detail, or coverage, so the company investigated laser scanning as a high-precision, complete measurement option and found Laser Design Services Corp. on an Internet search. “The Laser Design Account Manager explained the 3D laser scanning process and expected results very well,” commented the company’s president. “We sent in the two prototype PCBs (‘Generation 1’) we were working with for scanning right away.”
Laser Design did a great job. Their service and attention to detail was superb. The Account Manager took the time to educate me on the entire scanning process and what results we could expect. I would definitely recommend Laser Design for high-quality, reliable, and fast 3D scanning.”
Laser Design engineers scanned the two PCBs (app. 2” x 3”) on Laser Design’s Surveyor WS-Series system with a high-accuracy laser probe. One board was one-sided; the other was two-sided, so it was automatically flipped and rescanned on the back to capture all the resistors and diodes. The laser scanning system projects a line of laser light onto all of the part’s surfaces while cameras continuously triangulate the changing distance and profile of the laser line as it sweeps along. Non-contact scanning means that the problem of missing data on a complex free-form surface is greatly reduced. The system measures fine details so that the object can be exactly replicated digitally. Laser scanners measure articles quickly, picking up to 75,000 coordinate points per second, and generate huge numbers of data points without the need for special templates or fixtures.
The laser scan reproduced the part profile completely and precisely in the coordinate point cloud. The native software (Surveyor Scan Control) automatically connected the data from multiple views into a common coordinate system in a single 3D scan file. Geomagic software was used to refine the data and create an IGES model for viewing and measuring. Set-up and scanning time was about 1 hour for the two PCBs (3 sides total). Modeling took another day. Total turnaround time from receipt of the parts to delivered model was about two days. Accuracies were held to .001”, better than the previous measurement methods used.
Using touch measurement technologies to capture the PCB’s small components and curved irregular details would have taken much longer and produced a much less complete data set. Without non-contact laser scanning, this type of exact true-to-life shape replication of electronics would be virtually impossible.
The purpose of Laser Design scanning the Generation 1 prototype boards was proof of concept. The scan data allowed the company to quickly prototype the housing via 3D printing for testing. Modeling to .001” accuracies was vital to the success of the redesign project. “The data files were just what we needed,” stated the company president. “We sent Laser Design the specs and quickly received a quote. In less than a week we received the correct file type for our application. Our engineers were able to use them immediately for our Generation 2 prototype.”
The company will subsequently use this 3D data to develop Generation 2 boards. Once again Laser Design will scan these boards as the next step in the fabrication process to provide the data for creating injection mold tooling and ultimately aid in bringing their products to market.
The president continued, “Laser Design did a great job. Their service and attention to detail was superb. The Account Manager took the time to educate me on the entire scanning process and what results we could expect. I would definitely recommend Laser Design for high-quality, reliable, and fast 3D scanning.”