Emerging and future trends in PCB fabrication
There is a need to come up with better designs of PCBs as the world continues to develop so as to match the ever growing demand for better, faster, reliable, lighter and efficient electrical and electronic equipment. To achieve this goals there is a need for the manufacturing industries to research, invest, and allocate resources to their processes so as to realize enhanced and better PCB circuits that better than the traditional ones. This article focuses on the emerging and future trends in the PCB manufacturing industry. It also investigates how the trends can be implemented in the manufacturing process to enable production of superior PCBs.
To satisfy the ever increasing demand for high performance applications, higher bandwidth is becoming very important in computing systems. This has been brought about by the need for massive computation capacity and fast data processing capability. This subject leads us to our first trend in the PCB fabrication, which is construction of high speed channel components. Channel design was ignored at lower frequencies. This became a major drawback for high speed communication. Increase in data rates to the Giga bits per second region has led to serious considerations in channel design from a transmitter of a chip to a receiver on the next. Higher frequency signaling leads to a decrease in the size of the wavelength. This has led to consideration of electrical lengths that were once short as been very significant due to transmission line losses, delays and coupling of signals in these components.
Traditionally different channel components were designed separately with an objective of optimizing each component differently with the assumption of overall channel performance improvement. However modern work in high-speed channel design emphasizes on the entire system analysis to enable component level improvement. Package-PCB co-design for instance may lead to an improvement in the performance of the high speed channel.
Another emerging trend is the increase in the suppliers of PCB materials. Initially there were only a few suppliers that used to supply PCB materials to PCB manufacturers. However, over recent past and as we advance into the future, more suppliers of PCB materials have entered the market leading to better services and the reduction in the prices of the PCB materials.
PCB materials is the other area of interest in the emerging trends. In material classification by their end use, we get three categories of materials; high performance materials, enhanced epoxy systems, and FR-4. Among the commonly used material systems FR-4 have the least electrical performance of all. In the past few years the market of the FR-4 has begun reducing. In this category a lot of activity has gone into improving its processing cost, reduction of the lamination cycle times and reducing hole drilling costs. However the FR-4 is the most preferred material among the designers due to its low cost and easy availability of PCBs manufactured from this material. Currently the enhanced epoxy systems have been gaining market taking a market share from the FR-4, since they allow users to effectively cross the 1Ghz barrier. This is particularly useful to the Computer or server market due to the increase in the on board speed. High performance materials are getting immense amount of development and their growth appears to be getting strong as time progresses. High performance materials are the best choice for transmitting of more than 5GHz serial data. Its materials are more expensive as compared to the FR-4 materials and need special processing to make them into PCBs. High performance materials improve nearly every aspect of the signal integrity except that they do not dampen noise that occurs.
A material parameter often overlooked when setting up choices for PCB materials is known as the dissipation factor(Df), also referred to as the loss tangent. Dissipation factor can show how a particular material would handle complex signal routing, it is a measure of the dielectric material’s ability to absorb a bit of AC energy from an electromagnetic field passing through. To ensure that a high frequency circuit will exhibit very small losses it is preferable to select a PCB material with low Df value. Designers have found it very important to link the dissipation factor with a circuit material’s thermal conductivity during the evaluation of the PCB parameters.
A future trend in PCB fabrication is the challenge to manufacture an Ultra-Thin High-density interconnection (HDI) PCB. HDI technology focuses on increasing the miniaturization of products such as tablets, wearable devices and smartphones. This emphasizes the more and more reduction in the feature size of conductor line width and space, pitch and micro-via diameter so as to allow housing of additional components and layers without necessarily increasing the size volume or even weight of the PCB assembly. The PCB industry faces a big challenge in increasing the PCB layer count and decreasing thickness cross the 50 micron threshold.
Another future trend in PCB manufacturing and fabrication is ensuring that the PCBs get more complex . This is because as devices get smaller and faster the PCBs have to adapt. This means that designers have the task to develop, design and produce PCBs with more components and the ability to work as required in the high stress environments.
As the world progresses, PCB manufacture continues to improve and getting better. Discovery of new materials and new processing methods has led to great improvements and production of PCB circuits that operate at high speed and with very minimal losses. On looking at the emerging trends, the PCB industry has evolved from using the past materials in product manufacture to better and efficient materials such as the enhanced epoxy systems that enable operation at high frequencies. The need for high frequency circuits that can operate at GHz level has led to high speed channel design so as to enable increased data transition rates. Dissipation factor is a factor that should not be overlooked during the design PCB circuit parameters. There is a need for the PCBs to get more complex and fit into Ultra-Thin High-density interconnection PCBs for proper and effective operation of small powerful electrical and electronic gadgets.
With over 2o years of experience in delivering quality PCB prototypes, RUSH PCB Ltd is dedicated to improving the design, assembly and prototyping process from the design engineers to delivery. We lead the PCB industry with an on-time delivery rate of over 99%. Moreover, our technical support is readily available and ready to provide you all the necessary assistance.