Trends in PCB Materials

 In PCB

With the field of PCB manufacturing evolving constantly, eminent manufacturers such as Rush PCB are continuously improving their technology, making innovations, and evolving better manufacturing methods. The pace of advancement is very high, such that methods commonly in use yesterday are considered as obsolete today. Keeping up with the new trends in the PCB industry is a tough challenge.

Complexity Increases but Thickness Reduces

The present trend in electronics is making gadgets more powerful but reducing their thickness. For instance, the latest generation of smartphones can do things that a few years back would look like science fiction. OEMs are in a race to provide more sophisticated functions and features in smaller and thinner gadgets. Consequently, the PCBs need to be smaller and with thinner substrates, while the trend towards greater complexity is increasing the number of layers. This trend is leading to increasingly complex computing systems being fitted into small and even smaller packages.

The average thickness of printed circuit boards at present is closer to 0.4 mm, and very soon Rush PCB may decrease this to 0.3 mm. Although the decrease may not seem much, but it opens up a whole new realm of technical possibilities as we move towards the era of IoT and wearables.

3-D Integration and Embedded Components

With the growing complexity of PCBs, one of the growing trends is 3-D integration. Not only does this allow for better miniaturization, but it also makes the boards denser, also fitting more into a smaller space. To facilitate this technology, Rush PCB offers its customers modern PCBs such as flexible PCBs, rigid flex PCBs, and High Density Integration or HDI PCBs. Along with 3-D integration, Rush PCB also promotes technologies such as embedded components.

Rush PCB can embed a variety of components, ranging from passive components such as resistors and capacitors, to active components such as chips and integrated circuits. Embedding components inside PCBs offers substantial advantages. While decreasing the board size and increasing its complexity, embedding allows improving the system performance, while reducing overall manufacturing costs.

The improvement is performance from embedded components comes from reduced EMI or electromagnetic interference and better signal integrity. Moreover, with embedded components directly under them, integrated circuits link to these components with reduced length of traces. This drastically reduced via inductance and parasitic capacitance.

pcb trend

Improvement in Substrate Materials

Although paper phenolic and glass epoxy PCBs were in use for decades, these substrate materials are no longer suitable for modern PCBs with their higher data transmission rates and higher processing speeds. Therefore, newer substrate materials have emerged for handling the rapidly advanced technologies. For instance, Rush PCB now offers exotic substrate materials such as Fluoropolymers, Polyimide, acrylic adhesives, epoxy adhesives, and liquid crystal polymers.

Liquid crystal polymers have good dielectric properties with very low loss and moisture absorption. Rush PCB uses LC polymers in both clad and bondply, just as they do with fluoropolymer and low-loss all-polyimide constructions. They also offer rigid boards for high-speed applications made of low-loss thermoset adhesives.

Rush PCB uses special substrates that meet the demands of newer technologies such as LED lighting. Although these light sources are highly efficient, the LED chips produce heat, which unless conducted away, will reduce the life of the component. For such applications, Rush PCB makes metal clad PCBs that have a metal backing on one side acting as a heat sink to dissipate the heat, and a thermally conducting substrate to carry away the heat from the LEDs to the heat sink.

With rising speed of operation in electronic gadgets. PCBs require to handle very high-speed digital signals without distorting them. At high speed and frequency, the substrate material has a significant contribution to signal integrity, skin effect, impedance matching, and more. Rush PCB uses different suitable materials for substrates that allow high-speed and high-frequency signals to perform adequately.

Read More: Guidelines for Component Placement in Professional Boards

Green Electronics Manufacturing

With mounting statistics for climatic change, governments, businesses, and consumers are pressurizing the industry to look into more eco-friendly solutions for manufacturing. One of the initiatives Rush PCB has taken up is manufacturing PCBs that comply with RoHS and WEEE directives, by restricting the use of hazardous materials that earlier were part of PCBs.

Rush PCB makes printed circuit boards to meet the rising awareness towards RoHS compliance by meeting the demand for lead-free products that not only protects the user, but also minimizes their own carbon footprint. Furthermore, Rush PCB is foremost in manufacturing halogen- and lead-free PCBs, as their demand is rising rapidly.

With the rapidly shrinking size of SMD components, it is imperative the PCB has to also grow thinner and smaller. That implies everything on the PCB, including traces, spaces, and vias become smaller. Regular inspection techniques do not work for these miniature products, and Rush PCB has had to improve their PCB testing and inspection techniques to meet the miniaturization, and improve the quality throughout the entire manufacturing process.
Read more: Why You Need an HDI PCB?

PCBs for the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry offers a unique challenge to PCB manufacturers. When operating, the inner regions of an automobile exposes the PCB and the electronics to extremes of temperature cycling, bending, vibrations, humidity, and other stresses. The PCBs within an automobile is expected not only to function under these conditions, but also perform reliably over its lifetime. This requires PCBs made of special material that can handle these stresses. Rush PCB produces PCBs for the automotive industry that not only meet the present and upcoming challenges, but also cover testing and reliability.

For instance, automotive PCBs require handling high currents of several 100 A, with up to 1000 V, and information processing ranging to several GHz, for a lifetime of greater than 1000,000 hours. Rush PCB offers products that operate at higher voltages at small volumes. Their new PCBs with organic substances are suitable for power electronics and high-speed applications of vehicle computers and radar.

Of late, Rush PCB is experimenting with the option of all-polymer bondply and coverlay. Initially they had developed it for high-temperature applications by combining it with all-polyimide clads. The low loss characteristics of the new bonding film places it in the same range as the best all-polyimide clads. However, the new bondply requires high-temperature laminations, but offers the best options for high-speed circuits that also require to operate at high temperatures.

Conclusion

Rush PCB offers several types of materials for high-speed, high-temperature, and flexible circuits. The decision as to which material is the most suitable for a specific application depends on a number of tradeoffs such as electrical properties, mechanical properties, flexibility, and ease of processing. Rush PCB has extensive knowledge of the new materials and their processing techniques.

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