The substances that will be used to manufacture a circuit board are by far the most basic facets to consider throughout production. As such, it is important to comprehend the diverse PCB Laminate Materials in order to securely choose the ideal one for the target purpose.
Although it may sound too simple; however, in reality, selecting a PCB Laminate Material should be carefully considered as it will serve as the fundamental foundation of the circuit board.
In this article, we will comprehensively tackle the different PCB Laminate Materials. In that way, one could evaluate the highly suitable one for their operations.
What are the Primary PCB Laminate Materials?
There are typically two (2) main types of PCB Laminate Materials: Rigid Substrates and Flexible Substrates. However, we will touch on their subcategories of them.
As its term indicates, the Rigid Substrate is a PCB Laminate Material that is comprised of elements that contribute to its overall strength, durability, sturdiness, and reliability. Its main component, a Copper Clad Laminate made up of reinforcing parts, is what allows it to accomplish its primary objective. Several materials fall under this classification, we have the FR1 to FR4, CEM-1 to CEM-3, Rogers, Metal, and others.
In terms of structure, the thickness of an FR1 Material is approximately two to three stacked-up debit cards. It is a planar, firm substance made of polymer composite and a nonconductive coating of copper. Furthermore, it adheres to RoHS regulations; thus, it is ecological. In terms of applications, they are commonly preferred in Single-Sided PCBs since it is versatile and simple to cast; however, they can’t perform over the hole.
In essence, the only distinction between FR2 Material from FR1 Material is their TG value. The value of an FR1 is at a significant level; however, the FR2 is otherwise. Hence, their thermal resistance is on a different status; FR1 has excellent heat resistance, while FR2 has minimal heat resistance. On the contrary, they have almost the same characteristics as FR1, including their costs and usability.
Generally, the FR3 Material can be considered as FR2 since they are almost similar; however, rather than a phenolic resin, it utilizes an epoxy resin binder. Furthermore, if planning to employ this material on Multilayer PCBs; then, this is not the appropriate option.
Among all of the Flame Retardant Laminate Materials, the FR4 Laminate Material is the most widely popular across the globe due to its exceptional qualities, like meeting the UL94V-0 accreditation. In addition, it has a wide array of suitability, such as in Single-Sided, Double-Sided, and Multilayer PCBs. Moreover, it provides decent resistance to moisture, strong adherence to copper foil, and is inexpensive.
Typically, the CEM-1 Material is widely used in Single-Sided PCBs as it has exceptional properties compared to the paper materials, like FR1 and FR2. In line with this, the CEM-1 Laminate Material has an exceptional punching mechanism that can puncture at approximately 0.093 inches and outstanding flexural strength. Moreover, it possesses superior mechanical as well as electrical qualities. As for its composition, it is regarded as a cardboard foundation and woven glass textile interfaces are coupled with epoxy glue to create this composite material.
In terms of capabilities and qualities, the CEM-2 doesn’t differ that much from CEM-1; however, they have a clear distinction in terms of TG value. The CEM-2 is the non-retardant substrate, while the CEM-1 is a low-cost flame retardant. Ultimately, CEM-1 has a fewer TG value compared with CEM-2 which has a substantial value in its Glass Transition.
Essentially, the CEM-3 is often interchanged with FR4 as they have almost similar capabilities; however, the CEM-3 Laminate Material is referred to as an inexpensive alternative to FR4. In terms of applications, they are widely utilized in Double-Sided PCBs. In a similar sense, the CEM-3 is commonly preferred in Japan instead of FR4. In terms of composition, the FR4 is structured through a woven glass fabric, while the CEM-3 uses flies.
Generally, the Rogers Laminate Material was developed to address the application that deals with High-Speed, Radio Frequency, and Microwave. It is regarded that the elements used in the construction of a Rogers Laminate are comprised of High-Frequency qualities to efficiently produce low electrical and dielectric loss; thus, executing an exceptional thermal performance.
Among all of the Metal Substrates, there exist in the industry, the commonly used materials are Aluminum and Copper. In line with this Aluminum is preferred in Single and Double-Sided PCBs due to its outstanding electrical ability. Apart from that, they are extensively used for LED lighting devices due to their high thermal management capacity, high dielectric resilience, bending tolerance, and expense, which is also significantly lower than that of other metallic compounds.
As its term indicates, Flexible Substrate Materials are primarily composed of versatile elements that offer excellent flexibility that can handle intricate applications. Some of the laminates that belong in this category are PET, Polyimide, and PTFE.
Typically, Polyester Film (PET) Laminate Material is frequently used in the electronics and communications industry, specifically in transmission lines and flat cables due to its mechanical properties that offer excellent tensile capabilities, dielectric constant, and insulation resistance. Apart from that, after absorbing moisture, materials will indeed maintain their proportions. However, it has offered below-par thermal management.
Simply stated the molecular properties of the Polyimide Laminate Material sustenance superior electrical properties, chemical stability, heat capacity, and temperature resistance.
PTFE Laminate Material stands for Polytetrafluoroethylene with a widely known name as Teflon. In general, they are preferred in Flexible PCBs, including applications relating to driver assistance, op-amps, and transmitters since they can benefit from it through exceptional climate stability and reduced resource consumption.
Characteristics to Consider in Selecting a PCB Material
Among all of the characteristics, the fundamental ones that must be considered are the chemical and mechanical capabilities of the PCB Material. However, some other characteristics, like the thermal and electrical properties should not be overlooked.
The Glass Transition Temperature (TG) figure, which is expressed in Celsius, is one of the key categories to be considered when evaluating the Thermal Property of a substance. Furthermore, its Decomposition Temperature (TD), Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) calculated in ppm, and Thermal Conductivity (K) measured in watts per meter.
Simply put, the principal classifications to consider in defining the capability of an Electrical Property are its Dielectric Constant (Dk), Dielectric Loss Tangent, Volume Resistivity, Surface Resistivity, and Electrical Strength
Normally, one must take the substrate or laminate’s Peel Strength, Flexural Strength, Density, and Delamination Time into consideration when assessing the Mechanical Behavior of a PCB Laminate Material.
In essence, the Chemical Properties that should be looked at whenever selecting a PCB Laminate Material are Flammability, Moisture Absorption, and Methylene Chloride Resistance.
Factors to Consider in Choosing a PCB Laminate Material
Apart from the technical qualities of the PCB Laminate Material, there are still some other aspects to look at to further narrow down the decision.
Among all of the other aspects, the quality of the PCB Laminate Material should be the foremost priority since it will dictate the lifespan and performance of the board; hence, it would be beneficial to thoroughly evaluate the quality of a PCB Laminate Material by reaching out to an expert for a professional opinion regarding it. However, if one wishes to verify the quality, we suggest considering its performance of it after undergoing several assembling production, and it must fully comply with the standards in the industry. Apart from that, it must be able to tolerate a certain level of stress and strain.
Along with the quality, the PCB Laminate Material selected must abide by its distinctive costing. Some manufacturers offer exceptional quality PCB Laminate Materials at an affordable rate, like the MV Flex Circuit. Thus, it would be helpful to reach out to producers first before availing of their services and products. If possible, ask for some sample specimens to check for oneself. In that way, one could determine if the quality is appropriate for its price. Also, it would be beneficial to bring an expert alongside to verify the justifiability of the costs.
Ultimately, one should consider the strengths and capabilities of the PCB Laminate Material to determine whether it is suitable for the desired applications. Yet, one should still consider its pricing; it should be reasonable enough. Apart from that, some of the capabilities include the fundamental properties, including the thermal, mechanical, electrical, and chemical characteristics of the material.
As a wrap, whenever considering building a PCB, it would be highly beneficial to reach out to an experienced manufacturer, like MV Flex Circuit to carefully assess the suitable PCB Laminate Material for your applications. In that way, you could reduce the overall costs for maintenance and repair in the long run. Although we have provided this article to evaluate the PCB Laminate Material by yourself, it only serves as a guideline for you.
Nonetheless, if you’re interested in availing of our services, kindly contact us through our socials. We’ll be more than happy to attend to all of your concerns. Also, we have experts on standby to fulfill all of your needs; we’ll assist and support you with all our might. Get your PCB Manufactured by MV Flex Circuit, today!