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FR4: When Can You Use It and When Can You Not

A Guide to FR4: When Can You Use It and When Can You Not Most electrical engineers and individuals involved with printed circuit boards are familiar with the material FR4. FR4 is the backbone material upon which most rigid circuit boards are built. However, many are unaware of what FR4 is, let alone why it is the most popular PCB base. Read on to learn more about FR4 printed circuit boards, such as what they are, why they are so popular and how FR4 PCB specifications compare to other options within the industry.   What Is FR4 Material? FR4, also written as FR-4, is both a name and a rating. The name is applied to the fiberglass-reinforced epoxy-laminated sheets used in printed circuit board manufacturing. However, the name also functions as a grade used to rate epoxy laminate sheets. The designation essentially indicates the base quality of a laminate sheet,

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Most Common Gerber Files Problems & Solutions

 Most Common Gerber Files Problems & Solutions Printed circuit boards are a crucial element for a wide variety of businesses, especially now in the digital age, when electronic technology is so important to many different fields. There is a significant range of different types of printed circuit boards as well, with different materials, shapes and sizes depending on the needs of a particular company or industry. PCB designers are constantly trying to find ways to develop circuit boards that are faster, stronger and more efficient. One thing all of these printed circuit boards and PCB designs have in common, however, is their reliance on quality Gerber files. Gerber files are the digital blueprints of your PCB, the layer-by-layer input for the PCB manufacturers that detail the manufacturing and fabricating process. Gerber files mistakes can be disastrous for a PCB manufacturer, leading to manufacturing errors and printed circuit boards that fail

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How to Recycle Printed Circuit Boards

How You Can Recycle Printed Circuit Boards There was a time when corporations paid little attention to the waste produced by creating their products. Today, however, we understand much more about the impact industrial waste has on the environment — and responsible companies are taking steps to reduce such waste and engage in more environmentally-conscious production practices. If you use printed circuit boards in your business, you may be interested in proper printed circuit board recycling methods. Printed circuit board methods deal primarily with the removal of copper from the board, as copper can be very valuable and it’s easy to find applications for reusing it. Why You Need Special Printed Circuit Board Recycling Methods A printed circuit board is made of many different materials, the most valuable of which is copper. When you dispose of a printed circuit board, that copper can bleed into the environment through media like

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Polyimide PCB Material Information (FR4 vs. Polyamide PCB)

Polyimide PCB Material Information (FR4 vs. Polyamide PCB) Many companies that use printed circuit boards are fine using the standard FR4 material for their boards, and this can be a fine option. FR4 boards are affordable and effective for many applications. However, FR4 boards are not the only type of printed circuit board material out there, and some other boards may be better-suited to other applications. One type of board material you may consider is polyimide. There may be some polyimide PCB material properties that will fit well with the board applications for your industry. If you’re just starting to use printed circuit boards, it will be useful to know which material is best before you start ordering them. If you’re not sure whether or not polyimide/polyamide PCBs may be right for you, read on to learn about the properties of these boards and how they can affect your applications.

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Ceramic PCB vs. FR4 vs. MCPCB

If you’re using printed circuit boards, you can use the standard fr4 boards or you can go with a metal core printed circuit board (MCPCB). Ceramic printed circuit boards are a type of metal core PCB you may prefer. There’s certainly nothing wrong with fr4 boards, and if you’ve been using them effectively in your business, you will probably want to continue to do so. But just in case, it’s a good idea to understand the distinctions between standard fr4 boards and metal core boards. Which you choose will depend on the demands of the particular applications for which you will be using your printed circuit boards. So what are the various advantages and disadvantages of fr4 boards vs. MCPCB or ceramic boards? Fr4 vs. MCPCB One of the main reasons why you would avoid fr4 vs. a ceramic circuit board or other MCPCB board has to do with heat

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Reducing PCB Emissions Low-Noise Design Practices

Reducing PCB Emissions Low-Noise Design Practices It is generally desirable to have reduced emissions with your printed circuit boards. Reducing emissions comes down to having the right design approach. Some manufacturers may not realize they are not stuck with the level of emissions their printed circuit boards currently register. If you are looking to improve printed circuit board performance, you should always start with a proper approach to design. It may be possible to reduce PCB emissions with low-noise design practices. Here are some ideas for low-noise PCB design, which you may wish to integrate into your own board designs in order to reduce emissions. Use an Adjacent Pair Stack-up Design One low-noise circuit layout option that may be useful relates to how you design your stack up. A more desirable design plan may be to stack up the layers with signal pairs adjacent to their respective image planes. If

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Interconnect Defects — Debris-Based and Copper Bond Failure

Interconnect Defects — Debris-Based and Copper Bond Failure One concern you may have with respect to your circuit boards concerns interconnect defects, or ICDs. What exactly are interconnect defects, and what can you do about them? Here is the basic information you need to know regarding this troublesome issue. What Are Interconnect Defects (ICDs)? An interconnect defect is a problem in your printed circuit board that could lead to circuit failure. There are internal connections in your printed circuit board, typically called vias, in which the manufacturer drills through the inner-layer circuit. When the manufacturer processes the PCB, they put copper into the drilled hole to connect the inner-layer circuits to each other and to the surface of the printed circuit board. This allows you to place connectors or components to the board’s surface, and allows the circuit to connect between layers. Problems can occur when the manufacturer fails to

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PCB Insulation Materials

PCB Insulation Materials A printed circuit board consists of an insulated substrate, the board itself, and printed wires or copper traces, which provide the medium for electricity to travel through the circuits. The materials of the substrate also serve as PCB insulation materials that provide electrical insulation between the conductive parts. Multilayer boards will have more than one substrate separating the various layers. What are typical PCB substrates made of? PCB Substrate Materials PCB substrate materials must be made of substances that do not conduct electric currents, as this will interfere with the path of electricity as it travels through the printed wires. In fact, the substrate materials are PCB insulation that functions as a laminated electrical insulator for the circuitry of the board. Each layer of circuitry connects through holes that are plated through the board when connecting traces on opposite layers. Materials that serve as effective substrates include

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RF and Microwave Design

Guidelines for RF and Microwave Design RF and microwave circuits are now some of the most common PCB designs across the electronics industry, recognized for their abilities to capture higher frequencies than normal circuits. Formerly too costly to make for anything outside of the military and aerospace industries, RF and microwave circuits are now integral parts in a wide range of commercial and professional products, specifically wireless communication devices like cell phones, satellite broadcasters and wireless networks. With higher frequencies, however, come more design challenges.   To ensure these high frequency RF and microwave circuits are successful, suppliers must consider several RF and microwave design techniques for PCBs. RF and Microwave PCB Basics The simplest way to describe RF and microwave PCBs is that they contain components that carry RF or microwave signals. These signals vary in frequency, and the differences in frequency define the differences in components between RF

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Solder Mask Discoloration on PCBs

Guide to Solder Mask Discoloration Careful inspection of your printed circuit boards (PCB) may be second nature in your industry, and the first time you saw solder mask discoloration on a circuit board, you may well have been alarmed. Whether you observed white patches on a PCB, dark stripe PCB solder mask discoloration or some other type of solder mask discoloration, it’s natural to immediately want to know if the PCB is still good, if the discoloration will cause some kind of problem, what caused it and how to prevent it from happening again. Here is a quick guide to solder mask discoloration. Dangers of Solder Mask Discoloration on a Circuit Board The reality is that in most cases, any kind of PCB solder mask discoloration is probably cosmetic and does not represent any damage to the board that will affect its functioning. However, it is possible that whatever caused

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PCB Glossary

  • Net-List

    An ASCII list describes logical connections between component pins. Generated from schematic capture systems for transferring logical connections to layout systems. Other net-lists are generated from CAD/CAM system for board test and in-circuit test purposes.

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