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PCB Layout Software

 PCB Layout Software When it comes to PCB design software, there are a number of options to consider, and which software you choose will depend upon your specific printed circuit board design needs for your industry. Here is a breakdown of your PCB layout software options and the merits of each type for your business. Choosing Your Software When it comes to choosing your PCB layout software, there are a few basic issues you want to think about: Cost — There are many free PCB design programs on the market. While a paid PCB design program isn’t necessarily all that expensive, you can get pretty good value from a free program. If you’ve never used PCB design software before, you may want to start out by trying a few free programs before investing in a paid program. User-Friendliness — There’s no reason that a PCB layout program should be difficult

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What Is Trace Impedance?

What Is Trace Impedance? In printed circuit boards, wires and traces are typically formed from copper because it is the least-resistant element apart from silver. Put an ohm meter over a trace and the DC resistance is almost negligible. The same cannot be said of AC impedance. Impedance, unlike resistance, is based on frequency. All wires and traces will generate at least some impedance to current flowing from any driver. While, usually, you must have a fairly fast rise time for your signals for trace impedance to become a problem, it’s important that you be aware that trace impedance exists and can become an issue. But why do we need to worry about trace impedance? Why does it exist and is it possible to control it? If you’ve heard the term “controlled impedance,” you are probably already aware that it is possible to control impedance. But to understand how and

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PCB Material Selection Guide

With all PCB material types, the purpose is to conduct electricity and provide insulation between conducting layers of copper. FR-4 is the most widely used material in this category. However, the needs of your board will invariably rely on various PCB material properties. Read the following PCB material selection guide to learn what to look for when it comes to the thermal, electrical, chemical and mechanical properties of different PCB material types. PCB Material Options and Classifications and Substrate Property Considerations Thermal Properties Glass Transition Temperature (Tg): A PCB substrate softens when exposed to temperatures above a certain threshold. The substrate hardens back to its natural state once removed from heat. The range at which this transformation can be applied to a substrate is known as glass transition temperature (Tg) — a unit noted in degrees Celsius. Decomposition Temperature (Td): When exposed to temperatures past a certain threshold, a PCB substrate will

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Wave Soldering vs. Reflow Soldering

Wave Soldering vs. Reflow Soldering Soldering is a huge part of the printed circuit board design process. The only reliable way to get your circuits to stick to your board and stay there is by soldering them on. Without soldering, there are no printed circuit boards. But not all types of soldering are created equal, and it can be important to differentiate between the different types for PCBs. There are two main types of soldering for PCBs: wave soldering and reflow soldering. What is the difference between the two, and how do you know which type of soldering to use in which circumstances? What Is Wave Soldering? Wave soldering is a bulk soldering process that enables one to manufacture many circuit boards in a very short amount of time. It works by passing each circuit board over a pan of molten solder. A pump in the pan creates a “wave”

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PCB Corrosion Causes

PCB Corrosion Causes Corrosion is one of the major enemies of printed circuit boards. A sufficiently corroded circuit board won’t work, and the steady advance of corrosion is inevitable. But why do printed circuit boards corrode, and what are some of the most common causes of PCB corrosion? What Is Corrosion? Corrosion is the process of oxidation that happens when oxygen bonds with metal, producing rust and causing the metal to flake off and lose its valuable chemical properties. Since printed circuit boards are largely made of metal and are exposed to oxygen, they must corrode eventually. However, not all metals are created equal when it comes to corrosion. Some metals corrode almost immediately while some seem to never corrode. Metals that are highly resistant to corrosion include: Graphite Gold Silver Copper-nickel alloy Metals that are highly susceptible to corrosion include: Plated tin Lead Copper Plated nickel Metals that are

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Guide to Wave Soldering Problems for PCBs

What Is Wave Soldering? Wave soldering is a type of soldering process used during the bulk manufacture of printed circuit boards, or PCB. The wave soldering process allows manufacturers to quickly and reliably solder large printed circuit boards. The process gets its name from the wave of solder each board gets passed over. Using a wave of solder as opposed to individual solder points produces solder joints that are mechanically and electrically reliable. The wave soldering process is effective for both the conventional through-hole method of PCB assembly and also the newer surface-mount method. So what’s in a wave solder machine, and how does the process work? At its core, a standard wave solder machine starts with one component: a heated tank of solder that is maintained at the required temperature for the specific soldering process that is taking place. Inside the tank, the technician sets up a wave of

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Guide to PCB Stiffeners

Guide to PCB Stiffeners One of the popular types of printed circuit boards that Millennium Circuits Limited offers is flexible circuit boards. If you’ve used flex PCBs before, you know how useful they can be. Flex circuit boards allow you to outfit products with circuitry when the design of those products won’t admit a rigid circuit board, so they’re invaluable for many electronics applications. However, flex printed circuit boards have their drawbacks, one of which being that they may not be rigid in places that actually need stiffness — PCB stiffeners were created for these situations. When you’re working with flex circuit boards, you often need flex PCB stiffeners. You may not be familiar with PCB stiffeners, or you may have an idea what they are but not be entirely sure how to apply them. So, what are PCB stiffeners, and how do they work? How Do PCB Stiffeners Work

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IC Packaging

IC Packaging What is IC packaging, and why is it important for your electronics applications? If you work in the electronics industry and are not clear on how IC packaging material can work for you, here is a basic breakdown of the idea behind IC packaging. What Is IC Packaging? IC packaging, or Integrated Circuit packaging, refers literally to the material that contains a semiconductor device. The package is a case that surrounds the circuit material to protect it from corrosion or physical damage and to allow for mounting of the electrical contacts connecting it to the PCB. There are many different types of integrated circuits, therefore there are different types of IC packaging to consider, as different types of circuits will have different needs when it comes to their outer shell. IC Packaging Families There are three main types of IC packaging families: Leadframe: Leadframe packages are typically suitable

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How to Measure Solder Mask Thickness

How to Measure Solder Mask Thickness The solder mask is an essential element in printed circuit board manufacturing. Without a quality solder mask, most printed circuit boards wouldn’t last very long. There are several elements that go into creating an effective solder mask, and it’s a key feature of your printed circuit board’s makeup. What is a Solder Mask Solder mask is a material used to protect the copper on the circuit board with a protective layer of liquid photo imageable lacquer. This mask goes on both sides of the circuit board to protect the copper from problems that could lead to failure, such as oxidation, shorts from outside conductive influences, soldering, high voltage spikes or environmental factors and so forth. When fabricating the printed circuit board, you’d spray the solder mask onto the production panel, then apply UV exposure with the correct solder mask pattern, then develop and dry

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The PCB Manufacturing Process

The PCB Manufacturing Process The printed circuit board (PCB) acts as the linchpin for almost all of today’s modern electronics. If the device needs to do some sort of computation — such as is the case even with simple items like a digital clock — chances are there’s a PCB inside of it. PCBs bring electronics to life by routing electrical signals where they need to go to satisfy all of the device’s electronic requirements. For this to happen, PCBs are laid with a network of paths outlined in the traces. It’s these copper pathways that allow PCBs to direct electrical currents around their surface. There are three main types of circuit boards that get manufactured on a consistent basis, and it’s important to understand the differences between each so you can decide the right circuit board for your requirements. The three main types of circuit boards in current manufacture

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PCB Glossary

  • Cleanroom

    A room in which the concentration or airborne particles is controlled to specified limits.