Stretchable PCB

Where to use Stretchable PCB Technology

Traditional Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are rigid, meaning they are not meant to be bent during use. A different type of circuit board is available for use in applications that need the board to flex or bend repeatedly—flexible circuit boards. Both these are not very useful if the application demands the circuit board be stretched. For this, RUSH PCB UK LTD recommends using stretchable PCB technology. [1]

Stretchable PCB Construction

Although stretchable PCB technology uses classical processes for production and assembly of such PCBs, the laminate is either Polyurethane or Polyimide. This has the advantage of realizing stretchable PCBs with relatively low investments. For ease of assembly of components on the substrate, manufacturers use one of two methods as follows.

Manufacturers reinforce the laminate locally using an interposer or a special coating. The alternate method is to use Stretch-Rigid technology. Rather than connect two rigid boards with a flexible PCB as in Rigid-Flex construction, Stretch-Rigid technology connects multiple rigid boards using stretchable substrates with embedded copper interconnection traces. The electronic components are soldered on the rigid parts. [2]

Properties of Stretchable PCBs

PCBs with stretchable substrates are useful for applications that require the PCB to stretch, twist, bend, or any combination thereof. The stretchable substrate is ductile enough to decouple mechanical resonances, which reduces the effort necessary for compensating mechanical tolerances.

Stretchable PCBs come in single or double layers, with Polyurethane being the usual stretchable substrate. Typical base material thickness varies between 90 and 100 µm or 3.5 and 3.9 mil, while the copper weight is usually 0.5 Oz or 17.5 µm.

As the substrate must stretch, manufacturers take special care to give the copper a high peel strength of about 5 N/mm or 456 Oz/in, and a tensile strength of 6 MPa or 870 psi at 50% strain.

The above features of the substrate allow the stretchable PCB a maximum stretchability of 30% of its original length and 10% stretchability for repeated elongations. This however, depends on the structure of the copper pattern on the stretchable substrate. As the maximum allowed temperature for soldering on the substrate is about 150°C, the assembly process uses SnBi solder and FR4 interposers.

This allows a usable operational temperature range of 0 to 100°C for stretchable PCBs. Where the application requires a stretchable substrate of short length and low volume, manufacturers prefer to use Polyurethane as the substrate material. If the application demands a long and high-volume substrate link between the rigid parts, Polyimide is preferable. [2]

Advantages of Stretchable PCBs

Stretchable PCBs are very useful in the industry where two parts of a machine move relative to each other and must be interconnected electrically. For instance, a sensor executing complex movements on a stationary machine is best interconnected using a stretchable PCB as it allows the sensor to move in multiple degrees of freedom, including linear and rotational. Apart from being able to twist and bend, the stretchable interconnect can also allow the sensor to move linearly away from the machine (stretch) when needed, with a maximum elongation of 30% of its original length.

Therefore, two or more rigid boards connected by stretchable substrates can change their individual positions very easily, can change their positional angles relative to each other, and move apart or come close to each other, while remaining electrically tethered to each other all the time. However, for repeated stretching and contractions, RUSH PCB recommends limiting elongation of stretchable PCBs to 10% of the original length. [3]

Mechanism of Stretchable PCBs

Although the thermoplastic Polyurethane that manufacturers use as substrate for stretchable PCBs can stretch inherently, copper traces in straight lines on the substrate prevent it from doing so, as copper is not ductile enough for the purpose. Manufacturers use special press and confidential lay-up techniques for bonding the standard ED or RA copper foil on the Polyurethane substrate. Once this is done, they use regular subtractive wet-etching PCB processing steps such as drilling, metallizing, imaging, plating, and etching for fabricating stretchable circuits.

As adding multiple layers of adhesive and Polyurethane substrates reduces the stretchability of the product, stretchable PCBs are mostly double-sided and four layers at the most. To maintain a homogeneous elastomeric construction, manufacturers apply a Polyurethane solder-mask or coverlay on the finished PCB. [4]

Assembly of a stretchable PCB uses the standard off-the-shelf surface mounting components soldered on its copper tracks. As these components are rigid, the areas where the components are positioned cannot stretch. Therefore, the concept of the stretchable circuit is basically small islands of a rigid nature holding a few SMD components interconnected with conductive copper foil on stretchable substrates. For a mechanically reliable PCB, the manufacturing technique follows a gradual transition from the rigid area to the flexible area and ultimately to the stretchable region.

To allow the copper traces on the substrate to flex without damage, the designer gives the traces a horseshoe shape rather than allowing them to travel in straight lines. The designer then places the horseshoe shapes alternately facing 180°, allowing them to meander along the path the straight trace would have normally taken. When stretched, the horseshoe tracks will uncurl without much stress. Other shapes such as triangular and sinusoidal interconnect traces can also stretch, but exhibit higher stresses, leading to lower reliability. This has led manufacturers to standardize on the horseshoe shape. [6]

Designers must note that stretching copper traces leads to a change in their resistance. For instance, tests conducted on copper traces with thickness of 15 µm, width 1 mm, and length of 80 mm showed an original resistance of 7.4 Ω, which increased to 13.5 Ω when the trace was stretched by 10%, to 23.8 Ω when stretched by 20%, and to 37.6 Ω when stretched by 30%. However, lab tests have verified that the trace maintained its conductivity even after a 300% stretching. [5]

Also Read: Five Reasons Why RushPCB is the Leading LED Board Manufacturer in UK

Uses of Stretchable PCB

Applications that demand the PCB be placed on a non-flat surface are the major users of stretchable PCBs. A conventional rigid PCB cannot be comfortably integrated on a non-flat surface such as that in wearable and implantable devices. Devices such as used in smart textiles, safety, sports and leisure, and biomedical applications often follow irregular shapes, and the printed circuit must follow the shape for proper integration.

Although it is possible to form a flexible circuit in the shape of a cone or a cylinder, only a stretchable circuit can be deformed onto any type of surface, as it has stretchable interconnects. [6]

For instance, stretchable PCB placed in the sole of a shoe can measure pressure with embedded sensors, collecting data with free movement of the user. Placed inside bandages, the pressure sensors on a stretchable circuit can measure the tightness of the applied bandage. [2]

Conclusion

A completely new range of electronic devices can make use of stretchable PCBs providing comfortability as their unique characteristic. Apart from the few uses listed above, stretchable PCBs are already being used in applications involving artificial skins, randomly shaped biomedical implants, and conformable light sources.

References:

  1. http://www.qpigroup.com/en/products-services/pcb-technology/stretchable-pcb-technology
  2. www.qpigroup.com/stream/public/site/downloads/technology-offer-sbc-2015a.pdf
  3. http://www.qpigroup.com/public/site/downloads/qpi_spec_es_1208_2016_str.pdf
  4. https://www.xjypcb.cn/innovating-technology-stretchable-pcbs/
  5. http://www.satosen.co.jp/eng/product/stretchable.html
  6. https://smtnet.com/library/files/upload/stretchable-circuits.pdf
Why RushPCB

Why RushPCB UK Is a Reliable PCB Manufacturing Company

Why RushPCB UK Is a Reliable PCB Manufacturing Company

Consumer demands and industry challenges are increasing tremendously towards lightweight products, miniaturisation, greater product design freedom, lower costs, more environmental friendly applications, and higher reliability. In all these aspects, flexible circuits from a trusted PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB, are proving their worth.

Flexible Circuits from RushPCB UK

The flexible circuit technology offers a huge range of benefits and capabilities. Offered by the best PCB manufacturer UK, flexible circuits effectively eliminate wiring errors commonly associated with manual wiring harnesses, which simplifies assembly. As these circuits can flex, form, and bend to follow the contours of cabinets, they often eliminate several connectors, reducing component numbers, assembly effort, and time. All this goes to increase the product reliability.

RushPCB, a reliable PCB manufacturer UK, makes high-quality flex circuits that encourage 3-D packaging through their property of dynamic flexing. The circuits offer unmatched high speed and high frequency performance as they allow excellent control over transmission impedance, while offering lower impedance as compared to that offered by conventional wiring.

RushPCB offers flex circuits with dielectric substrates that are good conductors of heat. This improves heat dissipation, while flat conductors provide thinner circuits, leading to a huge improvement in airflow capabilities. Additionally, the compliant substrate minimises thermal mismatches.

The lightweight nature of flex circuits helps in reducing the weight of the product, which in turn, the OEMs can use for increasing their products’ packaging density, aesthetics, appearance, or for offering designs that are more integrated.

Advantages of Flexible Circuits from RushPCB UK

There are several benefits of using flexible circuits from the most trusted PCB manufacturer UK. RushPCB offers the thinnest dielectric substrates, as thin as 0.002 inches, and these reduce the package size and weight extensively—sometimes by as much as 75%—the weight reduction being especially attractive to the aerospace industry.

By using flexible circuits, OEMs can bring down their assembly costs. They achieve this in two ways—first, by reducing the number of assembly operations required, and second, by their ability to test the circuit before committing it to the final assembly. This comes from the highly reliable design of flexible circuits from the best PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB, as their design offers an excellent means of reducing the number of levels of interaction required by the product.

Hand-built wire harnesses do ease the assembly process, but often introduce wiring errors that take up troubleshooting and repair time. Flexible circuits eliminate wiring errors entirely, as it is not possible to route them to points other than those already designated.

pcb

SMT and Flexible Circuits Assembly

RushPCB, the best PCB manufacturer UK, offers flexible substrates, and uses the most advanced surface mount technology (SMT) components and reliable conductive lead-free solder pastes for mounting them. Flexible circuits from RushPCB come with highly compliant substrate material that effectively counteracts the effects of thermal stress, as SMT components are highly sensitive to thermal mismatch between the component material, mounting, and the substrate.

High Density Interconnect PCBs from RushPCB

For customers requiring even higher wiring density per unit area, highly trusted PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB, offers the High Density Interconnect (HDI) PCB technology. HDI technology offers finer lines and spaces, smaller vias, capture pads, and higher connection pad densities than conventional PCB technology can. OEMs use HDI PCBs to reduce the weight and size of their products, while enhancing their electrical performance.

RushPCB makes HDI PCBs using microvia and buried via technology, along with sequentially placed lamination, insulation material, and conductor wiring layers for very high density of routing. Coming from the best PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB, HDI PCBs are the best alternatives to expensive high layer-count standard laminates or sequentially laminated boards.

Signal Integrity in HDI PCBs

For high-speed boards, maintaining signal integrity is highly desirable. For this, the PCB has to possess excellent AC characteristics, such as high-frequency transmission capabilities, impedance control, and low radiation. Furthermore, stripline and microstrip transmission line characteristics necessitate a multi-layered design.

To maintain signal integrity, the insulating material in the PCB must have a low dielectric factor along with a low attenuation ratio. Unprecedented high-density is demanded by mounting and assembly methods for Direct Chip Attachment, Chip Scale Packaging, and Ball Grid Array packages. RushPCB achieves these using the microvias and buried via technology, which uses holes with diameters down to 150µm and even lower. Rather than use regular drill bits, RushPCB prefers to use highly accurate lasers for drilling such small-diameter holes.

Advantages of Using HDI PCBs

The HDI technology from RushPCB offers substantial advantages over regular PCBs—making products smaller and allowing high-speed and high-frequency operations possible. HDI offers compact boards that give better electrical performance and lowers the power consumption. Shorter connections mean better signal integrity and other performance improvements due to minimal stubs, closer ground planes, lower EMI/RFI, and distributed capacitances.

rush pcb

RushPCB is Internationally Certified

OEMs, when selecting a consultancy for circuit board manufacturing, look for those with certification to international standards. Trusted PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB, conforms to IPC-A-600, and the standard defines the acceptability of circuit boards for quality of workmanship and sets the comprehensive criteria for their acceptance.

That means RushPCB as PCB manufacturer UK produces quality products and identifies sources of non-conformance, if any, in their manufacturing processes. RushPCB conforms to the IPC-A-600 training and certification, and therefore, the manufacturing services reduces the risk of mounting expensive components on PCBs that are defective. This not only reduces scrap, but also facilitates better communication with OEMs.

As a trusted PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB employs experienced engineers, purchasing professionals, and quality inspectors to define PCB requirements properly, specify requirements for purchasing, and to detect non-conformances. If you are looking for a reliable PCB manufacturing company, as a trusted PCB manufacturer UK, RushPCB will fulfil all your requirements.

 

rushpcb uk 2

PCB Design

Up and Coming PCB Designs

We know the importance of PCBs in our tech-savvy world. The continual advancements in modern technology creates a need for continual advancements in printed board circuits. There is a demand for smaller, more elegant, and dependable PCB designs. These new designs are used from PC manufacturing to new medical technology. The constant development of new printed board circuit designs allows the technology industry to keep inventing new ways to make our lives a little easier and in some cases healthier. Today, we are going to explore some of the advancements that we are already benefitting from and what is in store for the future of the PCB Fabrication Industry.
Board Cameras are now being used in medicine to make diagnostic testing much more comfortable for patients. Instead of a large, uncomfortable scope or camera being inserted into the area of the body that is being examined, the patient can now swallow a camera that will collect the necessary information that a physician needs to make a diagnosis. One example of this is called Capsule Endoscopy, the patient will swallow the disposable “pill” which will take up to fifty thousand pictures of your digestive tract. The pill travels out of the body through a bowel movement and can be flushed away.
Vertical Conductive Structures (VeCS) is the invention of Joan Tourné will offers a less expensive alternative for challenging fan-out projects to fine-pitch grid array components. Although still in the testing phase of development, Tourné states “Not only can we achieve higher interconnection density by packing more vertical connections in a smaller space, at the same time we can increase conductor router channel density under grid array components.” He continues to explain that PCB Fabricators will not experience additional cost with this method since the technology required is already being used by high-end shops after the appropriate training and licensing. We will have to wait and see if this new method will prove beneficial to the PCB Fabrication industry.
GaNonCMOS project consortium is currently working on a project that will use energy efficiency using GaN power switches and CMOS drivers. Collaboration on this project began in January 2017, the goal is to work with optimized embedded printed circuit boards creating integrated power components for less expensive, better-functioning systems. That sounds wonderful, let’s hope that it works!
Newer, better, stronger. PCB designs are the backbone of any electronic device. They provide us the ease of access to information around the world, they allow us to stay in constant contact with our loved ones and are beginning to play a vital role in medical technology. Smaller, elegant, smarter. PCB Fabricators are constantly challenged to create innovative boards to further our thirst for the technological and make our world an easier place to live.

References
Starkey, Pete. 2017. Vertical Conductive Structures–a New Dimension in High-Density Printed Circuit Interconnect Accessed March 9, 2017
Prophet, Graham. 2017 Consortia to develop GaN processes and PCB panel-level packaging Accessed March 9, 2017

electronic-components

Understanding the Basic Aspects of Electronic Components

Understanding the Basic Aspects of Electronic Components

If you are not sure what an electrical component is rest assured, you are not alone.  For those of us who love our devices, but have no idea how they work, sit back, relax and get ready to learn!  Electronic components are the meat and potatoes of the electronic devices we use every day and can’t live without.  They are not flashy and are usually quite easy to overlook.  However, without them, we would literally be back in the dark ages. Today we are going to discuss some of the most basic electronic components.  Some examples include parts like resistors, capacitors, LEDs, transistors, and integrated circuits.  So, let’s get started with the basics.

Resistors

Resistors have been named for their function, resisting the current.  The resistor is responsible for managing the volts and current in nearly any device that requires electricity.  It is the resistor that allows your device to continually operate without overheating or worse.  By controlling the voltage, it allows just the right amount of electrical current that is needed to operate the device, if it did not do this, then the device would receive too much electrical current and then overheat or in technical terms fry.

Capacitors

Capacitors are used to store an electronic charge for a small period which is released when the charge is needed.  The capacitor will release the stored-up charge when there is a disruption in the circuit of the device resulting in the need for additional power to keep it running.  Kind of like a backup battery, or you can think of it in terms of a generator.  When there is a blackout, facilities or homes that are equipped with a backup generator will not be left in the dark, the generator will save the day by providing electricity to the building.

LEDs (Limiting Emitting Diode)

Although this sounds like something that Luke Skywalker would use, LEDs are routinely used.  LEDs are used to provide light.  That little light that comes on when your cell phone is charging or the power light on your personal computer is the LEDs in action!

Transistors

Transistors are a little more difficult to wrap your mind around.  They are made of three terminals;

  • Base: Voltage goes through first, it makes the collector “turn on”
  • Collector: Receive voltage from base has a positive charge
  • Emitter: Receives voltage from collector has a negative charge

They work together as a switch to turn the circuit “on”.

Integrated Circuits

An integrated circuit is a tiny component that may contain some of the components you have just learned about.  They are the cornerstone of the devices we know and love ranging from cell phones to our home and work personal computers.  Without them, we would not be in the age of technology that we currently enjoy!

So, there you have it!  Your first lesson in the basic aspects of electronic components is now complete!  We hope you have found this information valuable and informative.

flex

Choosing the Right Flexible Circuit Supplier – Five Critical Considerations

Choosing the Right Flexible Circuit Supplier – Five Critical Considerations

If you are currently shopping for a flexible circuit supplier to build your circuit board, but are not too experienced in this arena, please take the time the time to read the following information.  The choice you are about to make is too important.  One of the biggest mistakes people often make is going with the lowest bidder, although easy on the wallet, you may be exposing yourself to a whole lot of aggravation and frustration.  When you are interviewing perspective flexible circuit supplier it is important to keep the following points in mind;

  • Capabilities (applications, designs, volume, engineering, and fabrication)
  • Assembly
  • Certifications
  • Quality Systems

Capabilities

Can they meet your needs?  Do they have the right equipment and the required knowledge?  After you have explained what your needs are can they tell you how they will meet the mechanical needs, which chemicals they will use, what type of thermals will be used, how the electrical aspects will work, how big it will be, and how the surface will be finished?  If not, then you should probably move on to the next applicant.

Will they be able to meet your supply needs while building it the exact way you need them to?

Do they have the capability to meet your fabrication requirements on a routine basis?  The fabrication process is quite detailed, will they be able to meet every detail you need every time you need it?

Assembly

Can the perspective supplier provide the necessary components?  If so this can save time by eliminating the process of shipping it to another facility to have them added.  But, you should ask them if they have the appropriate equipment, know how?  If they are not capable of performing the component assembly, it just may be worth the extra time to send it to someone who knows what to do and how to do it correctly the first time around.

Certifications

Find out what type of certifications they currently have.  Certifications are an important aspect because they show the suppliers dedication, experience, as well as knowledge of the industry.  This may be a deal breaker for you.  Why should you trust a supplier that does not hold any certifications in their expertise?

Quality Systems

When a supplier has taken the time to demonstrate their expertise through certification they are also providing proof of their standards.  This is because they will routinely go through an auditing process to keep their certification current.  The certifying agency performs the audit, ensuring that the required standards and quality systems are in place and more importantly being used.

Although you may not be an expert in the Circuit Board Industry, it does not mean you can’t arm yourself with the important questions that should be easily answered by the prospective supplier.  You have worked too long and hard to just hand your project over to a supplier who can’t meet your needs.  Perform due diligence now, avoid problems later.

CES 2017 Overview

CES 2017 Overview

The largest tech conference in the world is about to start. Here’s what we expect to see.

global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow

History of Circuit Boards

History of Circuit Boards

History of Circuit Boards

When looking back at the technology of yesterday it is amazing to see just far it has come.  Computerization has captured our imagination and amazed us with its ease of use and practical applications.  If you were to speak with a millennial today they will probably not be able to appreciate technological history since they were born into a world of smart phones, fit bits, and the world-wide web.  If you would like to test this theory just, try to take away their cell phones or iPads sit back and watch the world end as they know it.  For those of us who were the remote control for our parents, kept track of time by a watch (or the street lights) and know what a phone booth is (was) the advancements we have witnessed throughout our lives is genuinely amazing.  None of this would have been possible if it was not for printed circuit boards.

What Did We Do Before Printed Circuit Boards?

Well, we used wires of course!  Point to point construction was used.  This used big bulky wires and outlets that were not easily manageable and took a lot of time to maintain.

The First Signs of Technology

In the 1920’s circuit boards were made by various materials such as Bakelite, Masonite, and wood to name a few.  Holes would be drilled allowing flat brass wires to be riveted to it.  This was a very rough draft of today’s circuit boards.  In 1943 patents for first PCB (printed circuit board) were filed by Paul Eisler who designed them.  At the time the components of electrical machinery were connected by hand soldered wires.  He filed patents, three-dimensional printed circuits, foil technique of printed circuits, and powder printing.1947 ushered in the first double-sided printed circuit boards that had plated through holes.

U.S. Patent Office Grants Patents to U.S. Army’s Representative Scientists

This was a huge step in the progress of the PCB.  The scientists research was dedicated to the “process of assembling electrical circuits”.  This was granted in 1956 and laid the ground work for what will become the printed circuit boards of today.  The IPC (Institute of Printed Circuit Boards) was founded and held their first meeting in 1957.

The 60’s and 70’s Continual Growth

The first multilayer began to be produced in 1960.  Between the 60’s and 70’s changes in the process were introduced;

  • They were designed with a four to one ratio of red-and-blue line vellum method
  • Cameras were used make a one to one ratio of negative manufacturing film

By the 1970’s we started to see smaller more sophisticated devices that introduced new challenges to the industry.

Today there is not a computerized machine that does not operate without a printed circuit board.  The differences between then and now are obvious and are considered great accomplishments in the world of technology today.  Constant innovations and improvements are guaranteed to be designed and amaze those of us who born during its conception!

Global Electronics Up and Coming Technology

Global Electronics Up and Coming Technology

Global Electronics Up and Coming Technology

It makes sense that electrical engineering has reached every corner of the world.  It seems that every time you turn around there is a new quicker and efficient way to create computerized electronic devices.  Countries around the world have joined this ever-growing trend of electronical advances to claim their stakes in the rewards and benefits that are reaped from this industry.  Global technology is rather unique in the sense that citizens of every country can enjoy its products regardless of the its country of origin, it’s out there for the masses and we are certainly happy about that!

New Industrial IoT Starter Kit Has Been Introduced: Streamlining Smart Devices and Cloud

Avnet, Inc. one of the world’s largest global distributor of electronics released an industrial IoT starter kit that streamlines smart devices and the cloud “Avnet MicroZed Industrial IoT Starter Kit”. This kit comes with equipped with everything you need straight out of the box to simplify the client’s prototype and development process making it faster so you can get to the fabrication process smoothly so your project can be completed that much sooner.  It includes;

  • MicroZed 7010 SoM that is based on the Xilinx Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC and pre-loaded with Wind River’s new Pulsar Linux operating system
  • IBM Watson IoT agent
  • MicroZed Adruino Carrier Card
  • Pluggable sensors:  Motion and Environmental Sensor Board from STMicroelectronics and Thermocouple-to-Digital Pmod sensor model from Maxim Integrated
  • Ethernet, USB and power cables
  • A free trial of IBM Bluemix services

To learn more visit Design World, you will find the information you are looking for.

Modulator Drivers Advances to 64Gbaud

M/A-COM Technology Solutions “MACOM” has introduced a revolutionary 64Gbaud quad-channel linear Mach Zehnder modulator driver which is the first of its kind, the “MAOM-006428”.  It was designed to handle data rates of 400 Gbps and more using one wavelength for large communications utilizing coherent technology.  Its features include

  • Surface mount inputs
  • G3PO outputs
  • Linear performance
  • Low power consumption
  • Compact form

You can also learn more about this by visiting Design World.

Solving Industrial Issues One Idea at a Time

36-V op amps “TSB572”and “TSB611” are single volt amps that have been designed to supply GBW/Icc capability allowing around five times less supply current than standard op amps.  They are perfect for vehicle radio systems and electronic control units.  Their features include;

TSB572

  • Rail-to-Rail inputs
  • Rail-to-Rail outputs
  • 2.5MHz GBW
  • 1.5mV max input-offset voltage
  • Stability with capacitive loads
  • High resistance to phase reversal
  • Voltage range from 4.0V to 36V

TSB611

  • 560kHz GBW
  • Can function from voltage as low as 2.7V
  • Unity-gain-stable device
  • Very low input-offset voltage of 1mV
  • Operating current of 125uA (maximum) at 36V

Visit Design World if you are interested in finding out more.

We look forward to the new electronic technological advancements that are to come, and they definitely will.  We have only scratched the surface of the new and exciting designs that are guaranteed to amaze and excite us.  They are just around the corner.

For PCB Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Contact RUSH PCB

PCB Manufacturing Process

PCB Manufacturing Process

PCB Manufacturing Process

The first step in the manufacturing of a PCB is deciding which electronic circuit you will be making on the circuit board. Once you have made that determination you will need to make the design for it on your personal computer with the use of PCB designing software.  Then you will use a laser printer to print out the design you have created making sure that all of the components will fit on your print out.  Next you must sand the copper plate to make a rough surface so the design will stick to when it is applied.  After sanding the copper plate wash it with water and rubbing alcohol and then allow it to dry.

It is now time to cut out the design, make sure to place them face down on the copper plate, then run it through a laminator until the plate is hot, if you do not have a laminator, you can use an iron.  Once this step is complete it is time to place it in cold water moving it around until the paper comes off of it.  Once this is completed you will see that your layout design has now been etched on the copper plate.  This is called the etching process.  It is now time to introduce the copper plate to the etching solution, place the plate into the solution and gently agitate it for twenty-five to thirty minutes or all of the copper has dissolved around the design.  When complete rinse off the plate in a water bath, after you let it dry you can use the alcohol to wipe away any ink that is on it.  This completes the etching process.

You will now move on to the drilling process, the only way to complete this step is by VIAS drilling aka laser drilling.  This helps ensure that correct size holes are created for the circuit board.

The next step in the manufacturing process is conductor plating, in order for the copper plate to allow soldering of the components it must be plated with gold, tin, or nickel.  You will then move on to the solder resist.

The solder resist is the part of manufacturing when you make sure that any areas that are not solderable are covered in a solder resist material such as a polymer coating.

Once the above is complete it is time to test the circuit board to make sure that the appropriate voltage is being conducted to the correct areas of the board.

Now the assembly of the components can begin, this can be accomplished by one of two methods, through-hole construction or surface-mount construction.  The type of assembly will depend upon what your fabrication needs are.  The assembly consists of placing the correct components it the holes that were created by the VIAS drilling.

There you have it!  An overview of the PCB manufacturing process.  Call Rush PCB LtdCircuit today to find out how they can help you create the PCB you need.

Flexible-Printed-Circuit-Board

Flexible Circuits, They Bend for All of Your Electronic Devices

Flexible Circuits, They Bend for All of Your Electronic Devices

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term flexible printed circuit boards you have visited the right place!  They are simply printed circuit boards (the electrical brain of computers) that have the ability to bend or flex making them wearable.  Once you understand this the name makes perfect sense and is self-explanatory.  Generally, they are uses in type of electronic device that needs to be flexible during its use.  They are separated into three separate classes each with specified uses that make them unique.

Class I (One)

Class I flexible circuits are a part of every type of device that you can conjure up.  They do not need a whole of attention while wearing them because they are not exposed to rough environmental factors that usually results in the malfunction of the device.  Some examples of flexible PCB devices would be halter monitors (measures your heart rate), calorie counters, and devices that measure the number of steps you take during the time you are wearing the device.  The standard that must be met for this class is based on reliability and quality.

Class II (Two)

Class II flexible printed circuit boards are utilized for industrial and commercial industries.  They also are not usually exposed to tough environmental factors because of this their standards are based on quality and efficient solder joints making connections within the circuitry.  An example of where you will find a flexible PCB would be in a home automation system.  Most home systems allow you to communication with certain appliance through the internet.

Class III (Three)

Class III flexible printed circuit boards are used for military, aerospace, and medical electronics.  Since these boards are used for such important tasks their standard requirements must meet an extremely demanding testing process before they are deemed ready to function.  The assembly process is also more involved when creating them;

  • Knowing when and how to connect the vias in the bend areas
  • Avoid connecting vias when possible
  • Assuring stiffeners stay in the right places
  • Bending and twisting at different ratios, angles and levels
  • Different electrical components that are associated with it
  • Different thermal traits
  • Application of the J Standard to all military devices
  • Environmental testing
  • Thermal Shock cycling
  • Temperature cycling

Flexible PCB’s are the very heart of computerized machinery, without them we would not be able to enjoy our cell phones, games, computers, the list can go on and on!  We have come to depend on our devices, understanding the types of circuit boards your electronic gadgets have will help you appreciate those wonderful fabricators or manufacturers who share their expertise with the world so we can benefit from everything technology has to offer.  Whether you are using class one, two, or three, or any combination of the three you have experienced what todays flexible printed circuit boards have to offer us.  We excitedly continue to look forward to see what today’s technology will bring us next.