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Nowadays, the design is one of the key features for all consumer products. All the novel functions must be available inside fashionable covers. However, the most interesting product shapes are not always possible due the restriction of the traditional rigid printed wiring board (PWB). To achieve a real design freedom, a formable multilayer PWB structure is needed. This paper introduces the three-dimensional printed wiring board and the 3D integration of electronics and mechanics. The 3D integration of electronics and mechanics increases design freedom and space utilization efficiency e.g. in portable devices. The 3D integration technology is enabled by thermoplastic PWB material innovations and a new kind of system integration process. Thermoplastics are formable and they are widely used in many fields, but as a substrate for a multilayer PWB, they are rather new. Furthermore, this paper discusses the benefits and challenges of the 3D integration of electronics and mechanics and the special characteristics of its system design process. Integration of electronics and mechanics has an effect on the design process management. Design phases must be coherent and teamwork needs to be well organized. In addition, special requirements for testing are presented.
Date of Conference: 16-18 March 2005