Printed Circuit Boards, or PCBs, are one of the most interesting developments of recent times. These tiny circuit boards have huge civilian and military applications, mainly because of their construction. The compact size increases their applications vastly, but how are they so influential despite being so compact. The secret lies in the materials being used to make these printed circuit boards.
There are more than THREE types of printed circuit boards, and of course, the materials will differ with different types; however, the primary materials are all the same in every type. In this article, we are going to tell you about the different materials that the best PCB manufacturers China use to make their printed circuit boards.
A substrate is the base of any printed circuit board upon which the manufacturer will then construct the wires and lines for connectivity around the board. The type of a printed circuit board will depend on what material is in the substrate. Mainly there are two materials that manufacturers use depending on the intended use.
A fiberglass substrate is best suited for making rigid and strong circuit boards. Similarly, for flexible printed circuit boards, mostly used in medical equipment, manufacturers mostly go for a plastic substrate. A plastic substrate is a cheaper option as well as a more flexible option. But the durability and reliability of a plastic substrate depend on which plastic you use. The most common plastic substrates are polyimide, polyester, liquid crystal polymer, and polyethylene naphthalate.
Upon the non-conductive substrate, there is a complex web of conductive material that is responsible for all the connections and flow of current throughout the board and ultimately throughout the device. You can say that this is the crux of the entire printed circuit board. The most common conducting material is one of the most conductive metals, copper.
The substrates, covered in sheets of copper, are then customized by the manufacturer as per the instructions and needs of the client. How many layers of copper are going to be needed? How do the copper sheets need to be customized? Every little detail will depend upon the application of that specific printed circuit board.
A solder mask is like a protective cover over the circuit board that insulates the substrates and the copper circuits to protect against malfunctions, haywires, and short circuits. Without a solder mask, the solder liquid used to connect the copper lines and make the connections work will oxidate and leave the surface, causing the PCB to stop working.
Aside from safety, the solder mask also decides what color your printed circuit board will be. The most common color is, of course, green, but some new solder masks are coming in different colors like red, blue, black, white, and even a clear color.
After all the complex designing and manufacturing processes, the printed circuit boards need a nomenclature that will help with their assembly. The nomenclatures are mostly visible on the solder mask, but they are available separately too. The purpose of the nomenclature layer is to help the assembler identify the right way of assembly. These include ID numbers, symbols or signs or marks for accurate and easy assembly, and sometimes bar codes as well that contains the whole information about that PCB.
The purpose of this article is only to help you gather all the important information about printed circuit boards before you contact your manufacturer and order your printed circuits. With all this information, you will be able to understand all the questions that the manufacturer will ask, and maybe you will be able to strike a better and more economical deal by choosing the right type of material for your use.