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Flex Circuit Materials and Construction

Flex Circuit Materials and Construction We can use flexible circuits in a variety of applications. They can safely bend into small and complicated electronics, making them suitable for modern devices like smartphones. They absorb shock and vibration easily in high-stress applications. Rigid-flex circuits combine standard circuit board construction with flexible design for situations that require more durability. Have you ever wondered about the materials and layouts involved in the creation of these versatile PCBs? This blog post will provide a quick overview of common materials and constructions in flex and rigid-flex PCBs. Materials Used in Flex Circuits While most standard PCBs have a fiberglass or metal base, flex circuit cores consist of a flexible polymer. The majority of flex PCBs have a polyimide (PI) film as a substrate. PI film does not soften when heated, but it stays flexible after thermosetting. Many thermosetting resins like PI become rigid after heating, making PI a

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Aluminum vs. Standard PCBs

Aluminum vs. Standard PCBs In PCB creation, every material counts. Circuit boards with aluminum cores (aluminum PCBs) have different properties from boards without metal substrates (standard PCB’s). These two popular board types power a variety of commercial and consumer electronics. Will an aluminum or standard PCB suit your project best? The answer depends on your intended application. What Are Standard PCBs? Standard PCBs use a dielectric and copper as their most prominent metal consist of different layers of material. They feature a substrate, or base, made from fiberglass, polymers, ceramic or another non-metal core. Many of these PCBs use FR-4 for the substrate. This fiberglass material has a relatively affordable price and moderate durability. Additional layers of copper, solder mask and silkscreen make the board conductive and outline component locations. These layers may appear on one side of the base, both sides or in a multilayer stackup. You can find standard PCBs used in

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Single-Sided vs. Double-Sided vs. Multilayer PCBs

Single-Sided vs. Double-Sided vs. Multilayer PCBs When you read information about PCBs, you may see the terms “single-sided,” “double-sided” and “multilayer” used often. The circuit board industry uses these categories to determine the complexity of a board’s structure. Each type of PCB has different price points and uses. With a basic understanding of PCB production, you can discover the capabilities of these board compositions. Single-Sided Boards A single-sided PCB is simple and affordable to produce. The manufacturer begins with a base core material, such as fiberglass (FR4), which the core has a layer of copper on it. This copper material makes the board conductive and allows electricity to flow through. Then, they add a solder mask that insulates the conductive copper sheet below. Finally, they cover the rest of the layers with a silkscreen print that indicates the location for each part. When creating a single-sided board, the manufacturer adds

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Benefits of Multilayer PCBs

Benefits of Multilayer PCBs PCBs power many industries and devices in our society. As our technology develops, so does our need for different types of PCBs. As you choose between a single layer and multilayer PCB, the options might seem overwhelming. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each option before you invest in a new PCB. Here are some of the benefits of purchasing a multilayer PCB over a single layer design. What Is a Multilayer PCB? First, it’s important to understand what a multilayer PCB is and how it is manufactured. A single layer PCB has one layer of conductive material. You’ll find a conductive wiring pattern mounted on one side of the board and components on the other. Single layer PCBs are commonly used in simple devices since none of the wires can cross for the circuit to work correctly. A double-sided PCB is similar,

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What Are Copper-Filled Vias?

What Are Copper-Filled Vias? Printed circuit boards would not function without vias, the conduits that transfer signals between PCB layers. During PCB production, the manufacturer adds a layer of copper to the board substrate. This copper layer not only makes the traces conductive but also connects each PCB layer between the holes drilled into the board. The manufacturer can then leave the vias as-is and use the copper plating on its own to transfer signals. However, for added capacity, they can also fill the plated through holes with another conductive material. To create a copper-filled via, the manufacturer fills the through holes with epoxy resin and copper. The extra materials add cost to board production, but copper-filled vias make a PCB more suitable for certain applications. Copper-filled vias also feature capabilities that other conductive fillings do not provide. This guide explains the primary purposes of copper-filled vias and how they can enhance

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How to Audit a PCB Supplier

How to Audit a PCB Supplier Before choosing a PCB supplier, companies should make time to audit their options. This information-gathering process will help you stay on top of the competition and offer a quality end product. Discover how to evaluate potential suppliers for your PCBs and other electronics in this guide. What Is an Electronics Supplier Evaluation? An audit of electronics or PCB suppliers involves qualitative and quantitative assessment to determine if the supplier meets the customer’s standards. Most audits happen before doing business with the supplier, but some companies conduct regular audits even after making an agreement. Every business has its own approach to assessing potential and current suppliers, but they all have the end goal of ensuring they will get a quality product. These evaluations happen throughout all links of the supply chain. For example, at MCL, we evaluate the PCB manufacturers we work with before adding

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Outgassing on a Printed Circuit Board

Outgassing on a Printed Circuit Board Outgassing, also known as offgassing, results in defects during production and use. While unavoidable in certain applications, outgassing must be prevented or mitigated to ensure a functional final product. Learn more about outgassing and what manufacturers can do to prevent or reduce it. What Are PCB and Solder Mask Outgassing? When outgassing occurs, gas trapped in a PCB releases within the board. It most commonly happens in two situations: Wave or hand soldering during production: During wave or hand soldering, any moisture close to a through hole turns into vapor due to heat. When this gas escapes, it creates voids in the solder mask. Use in ultra-high vacuum environments: In applications involving ultra-high vacuum environments such as outer space, laboratories or medical facilities, the vacuum can cause vapors to escape from the PCB, creating condensation on the rest of the equipment. Issues Caused by

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PCB Materials and Design for High Voltage

PCB Materials and Design for High Voltage When creating a PCB for high voltage DC bias, standards and precautions become much more stringent. High voltage PCB materials and design for arc prevention ensure the final product is safe and functional. Avoid increased costs and danger by keeping these PCB materials and design tips in mind. PCB Materials for High Voltage Materials used in high voltage PCB design need to stay at peak performance in both regular environments and overvoltage events as it ages. Consider the following materials for the main components of your PCB: Board material: When choosing materials for your PCB, you should prioritize the board itself. It provides a foundation for the rest of the PCB’s functionality, so weigh all the factors in your design before ordering the material. FR4 laminate offers a very high dielectric breakdown, but it also has a weak edge structure and vulnerability to

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Interconnect Defects (ICDs)

What you need to know about Interconnect Defects (ICDs) Inner-layer separation, or interconnect defects (ICDs), can lead to circuit failure in PCBs. To create a fully functional PCB, a manufacturer must look out for ICDs and their causes. Here is a look at ICDs and how manufacturers prevent and correct them. What Are Interconnect Defects (ICDs)? During PCB production, the manufacturer drills through the inner-layer circuit and plated the hole with electroless copper to connect the inner-layer circuits together. This copper plated hole, usually called a via, brings the circuits to the top layer of the board. The via enables the PCBs’ different layers to connect, giving it functionality. However, sometimes a defect occurs in or near this drilled hole. This flaw is called an interconnect defect (ICD) or inner-layer separation. As the term implies, ICDs involve a separation between the copper filler and the circuits. These components must connect properly

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Environmental Impact of Semiconductor and Electronics Manufacturing

The Environmental Impact of Semiconductor and Electronics Manufacturing Printed circuit boards, semiconductors and other types of electronics have more advanced technology than ever. However, with increasing complexity in product design comes a wider range of materials used. Some of the substances traditionally used to create PCBs can cause harm to the environment and the people who handle them. Fortunately, the electronics industry has also taken measures to reduce its impact on the planet. This guide will explain common environmental issues associated with printed circuit boards and how suppliers and manufacturers address them. Are Printed Circuit Boards Hazardous Waste? PCBs include a variety of materials. While some substances used in PCB production count as hazardous waste, others have no negative impact on people or the environment. In 2011, the European Union published the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Act (RoHS), which limits or bans the use of certain materials in PCBs and

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PCB Glossary

  • Finished Copper

    This is how much copper your board will have on its surface. It is the copper foil thickness, plus plated copper, minus surface preparation. It is given in oz / per sq foot. 1 oz = a minimum of 0.0012”- 0.0014” thickness.