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Le 19/10/2015

LEMCI LabCom: simulation supporting high-technology printed circuit boards

Launched on 21 October, the Laboratory of Research and Modelling for Printed Circuit Boards (LEMCI LabCom) is the result of a partnership between the Laboratory of Study of Microstructures, Mechanics and Material Sciences (LEM3) and the SME Cimulec. This virtual research structure aims to develop digital prediction systems to improve the design of multilayer printed circuit boards.


Essai mécanique en vue de mieux comprendre le comportement des matériaux utilisés dans les circuits imprimés © LEM3


Without printed circuit boards, devices such as laptop computers, smartphones and tablets would never have been possible. The same goes for fighter planes, space satellites and other radar systems. There is however one significant difference; the highly complex printed circuit boards that are used in these advanced technologies must be custom designed. The company Cimulec has mastered this expertise to perfection. This SME with 70 employees, based near Metz, specialises in producing multilayer printed circuit boards for military, aeronautics and space equipment”Faced with the relentless densification of electronic systems, which is reflected among other things by the increase in the number of layers making up these printed circuit boards, Cimulec has had to broaden its skills in this area,” comments Sébastien Mercier, research-professor in the mechanics of materials at LEM3.

"Shortening the manufacturing cycle for printed circuits and reducing their development costs."

To rise to this challenge, the scientist from the University of Lorraine proposes creating a virtual laboratory combining the expertise of the manufacturer of integrated circuits and the knowledge of LEM3 in terms of the mechanical behaviour of materials and digital simulations. Launched last spring with financial backing from the French National Agency for Research (ANR), the LEMCI LabCom is the result. Structured into three technical platforms dedicated to testing, digital simulations and the manufacture of bespoke printed circuit boards, this laboratory which includes seven researchers from LEM3 and four engineers from Cimulec aims to revolutionise the multilayer printed circuit boards industry: “These cutting-edge products are still manufactured based on 2D plans for each of the 20 to 30 layers that make up the printed circuit board,” reminds Sébastien Mercier. “By integrating the third dimension, we will be able to validate the design upstream with the aim of shortening the manufacturing cycle for these printed circuit boards while reducing their development costs.”


Simulating the 3D structure of these printed circuit boards will enable Cimulec to leave out certain steps that until now have been essential, such as the design of prototypes to test their reliability and their service life depending on the environmental conditions. By replacing these tests with models, the company can therefore greatly reduce the manufacturing times for the most complex printed circuit boards. LEM3 also benefits from this association, which helps to develop and transfer skills to new industrial sectors. “By helping us to develop a scientific literacy in the aerospace industry, the partnership with Cimulec has for example, recently enabled one of our students to start the first joint thesis between our laboratory and the Centre National dEtudes Spatiales,” welcomes Sébastien Mercier. However, the collaboration between LEM3 and Cimulec should not stop there. Over the longer-term, both partners want to develop, through the LabCom, the 1st centre of excellence for printed circuit boards in French industry. 


LEM3 : Laboratory of Microstructure Studies and Mechanics of Metal
The Laboratory of Microstructure Studies and Mechanics of Metal (LEM3) is a centre of expertise in experimental characterisation and digital modelling of the mechanical behaviour and structural evolution of polycrystalline and polyphase materials, relying on relevant studies on different scales, from micro-structure and micro-texture to the calculation of manufacturing structures and processes.
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