Printed circuit board (PCB) designers often find themselves at odds with their purchasing and marketing departments after a design goes out for bids and comes back with a larger than expected price tag. Once the source of the high cost is identified, the questions fly, the fingers point, and the nerves fray.
As today’s printed circuit boards (PCBs) become smaller, they use fewer and fewer through hole components. It is increasingly difficult to justify allocating precious space for relatively large plated through component holes and their accompanying lands. Instead, it is necessary to use surface mounted components wherever possible. As surface mount technology becomes increasingly prevalent, the majority of the plated through holes on most modern PCB designs end up being vias.
Among the most common questions printed circuit board suppliers receive are those dealing with production capabilities. Customers often suspect that they are about to design-in a feature which may be either at or outside their fabricator’s limits. Fearing that their non-standard feature may add cost to their product, they inquire to find out just how much pain they are about to cause.
Over the past several years LED based products have become increasingly popular, and as a result, so too have metal core printed circuit boards. The automobile and lighting sectors have both embraced the technology, as have consumers, given an LED based light can be about 5x cheaper to run than a comparable incandescent unit. Even compact fluorescents have slightly higher operating costs and they cannot compete with the smallest LEDs when it comes to efficient use of space.
Printed circuit board (PCB) fabricators receive dozens of requests for quotations (RFQs) every day. While many requests have moved to more convenient online quoting formats such as our in-house application InstantPCBQuote, many customers still send requests the old way via either files or alternate forms of describing their manufacturing requirements.
Selecting PCB core thickness becomes a problem when a printed circuit board (PCB) fabricator receives a request for quotation of a multilayer design and the material requirements are stated either incompletely or not at all. This sometimes occurs because the combination of PCB core materials used is not critical to performance; if the overall thickness requirement is met, the end user may not care about the thickness or type of each layer.
All customers have questions when it comes to PCB laminate materials, so we took some of the most common questions and put together a helpful FAQ to bring you answers and solutions faster.
If you’re a designer of RF or microwave printed circuit boards you’ve probably already selected a laminate material that is appropriate to your project, having based your choice primarily on the electrical requirements of the RF circuit, such as signal speed, loss rate etc. Be careful however not to overlook the fact that the specialty materials used in such designs also possess unusual mechanical characteristics; processing is different from that of normal FR4 boards.
Miniaturization in electronics drives the need for both component and printed circuit board designers to work within ever-shrinking footprints in order to remain competitive. The signal routing requirements for many ball grid array (BGA) components are such that through hole via drilling is becoming less and less practical. This makes it necessary in many instances to use blind vias to form interconnections between layer pairs.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) continue to shrink. As each generation of miniaturized components comes along, board designers find themselves able to work within ever-smaller PCB footprint sizes. While this is great news for consumers (compare the size of a 1994 portable phone to one of today’s models) it presents difficulties for fabricators.