When making virtually any product, the materials you use can make a huge impact on the quality and durability of your product. In the case of printed circuit boards, special considerations when selecting your PCB materials is of the upmost importance.
In this post, you will learn a few things you need to think about when in the selection process for PCB materials, specifically for high-frequency applications.
One of the main and most important things you should consider is how well the material will absorb and distribute heat.
High-frequency means that large currents of energy will be pushed through the board very frequently to cause specific actions to occur. Energy carries with it a lot of heat. This means that the materials you choose for the manufacturing process need to be highly heat resistant and also capable of dispersing heat well so that it doesn?t overload the board.
If you choose the wrong material that is not very heat resistant, a number of troubling things can occur. To begin, your printed circuit board could catch fire or burn. In a lot of cases, this causes severe damage to the board, leaving it useless. Not only does that mean that the PCB is useless, that means the technology the PCB was helping to perform its functions will also be useless. This can cause issues with the brands your company works with, and can cause a lot of backlash from angry customers.
So, to avoid this, be sure you are choosing materials that will be heat resistant in high-frequency situations.
COST/BENEFIT OF MATERIALS
As a manufacturing company, the cost of materials will have a large impact on the materials you choose to work with when manufacturing a high-frequency PCB. This may diminish or improve the materials you are able to use, depending on your budget.
Some of the most common materials used in the manufacturing of PCBs include fiber glass, ceramic, HF material, polyamide, and PTFE (Teflon). Each of them has their various benefits, but the best one to use for high-frequency situations would be PTFE, or Teflon. Teflon is actually the same material you will find on non-stick cooking pans. It keeps the area it covers protected from burns white dispersing the heat evenly across the pan.
However, since this material can withstand much more heat than, say, fiber glass, it is more expensive to use in the manufacturing process. However, it is usually worth it. As a company, you will have to sit down and look at the cost/benefit of investing into a better material for high-frequency PCBs.
HOW THE PCB WILL BE USED
Another consideration to take when selecting your materials is to consider how this high-frequency PCB will be used. Will the PCB need to be rigid and unbendable, or does it need to be flexible to fit or be folded into tight spaces?
This will impact the materials you use. Materials like fiber glass and ceramic are very rigid, so they aren?t going to be able to flex into a shape that allows them to fit into a specific space. That is where materials like PFTE will come in handy, as they are soft and easily manipulated into smaller spaces.
In some cases, you may have a use for both rigid and flexible PCBs in high-frequency applications. Just take into consideration what you are making the PCB for before ordering your materials.
POTENTIAL FOR MANUFACTURING DEFECTS
When it comes to the creation of simple single-layer PCBs, many of them can be manufactured by human hands in very easy-going working environments. However, high-frequency PCBs are different. High-frequency PCBs require robotic precision, so they often use machines and lasers to cut circuit patterns into the boards.
While this could potentially cut down on human error, it is safe to say that different materials have a different potential for manufacturing defects. This could be materials the PCBs will be made of, or could simply be the type of drills and lasers used during the process.
Inexpensive materials are easily replaceable should manufacturing defects occur, but others may be more costly, especially if an entire batch of PCBs are unusable. As a manufacturer, you should be striving to have the fewest number of defects possible. This will keep you in business and keep the brands that you work with happy.
THE BENEFITS OF USING THE RIGHT MATERIALS
As previously mentioned, the main benefit of using the correct materials for high-frequency applications has to do with heat absorption. This will keep your boards from having post-manufacturing issues.
But aside from that, using the right materials can also help decrease electronic noise. Electronic noise occurs when circuit design pathways are too narrow, an issue that can be caused when the wrong machinery or lasers are used in the manufacturing process. Basically, the current of energy will spill over the pathway and will cause the overflow of energy to run across the board. This causes an interference of sorts, and can lead to a device not performing the correct function.
Using the right lamination materials will also pay off. In many cases, high-frequency PCBs are multilayered PCBs. This means that individual layers must be laminated together. This lamination will keep the high-frequency PCB protected against environmental hazards and external heat sources. It assures that the PCB will be able to function in harsher conditions, so brands don?t have to worry about the functionality of their products.
High-frequency PCBs are using inside of devices that are constantly sending and receiving information. This means that the transfer of energy is always occurring. They are used inside of several items, specifically in the communications, industrial, and medical fields.
These are devices that we need at a moment's notice, so it is important that they remain functional. The quality of the materials used in their manufacturing process will make a large impact at crucial and event life-or-death moments. Take the above points into consideration when purchasing your materials.