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Essential Considerations in Modern PCB Design

A printed circuit board (PCB) is a durable and highly reliable physical circuit design. They are made of a skinny substrate board and embedded with interconnected electronic components using a thin layer of interlinking copper traces. The substrate of this printed circuit board is usually fiberglass composite epoxy or other laminate materials.

PCBs are used in almost every electronic product that you can think of. They electrically connect and mechanically support electronic components through their conductive pathways.

With an intricate design and hundreds of tiny components, PCB manufacturing and PCB assembly can come with specific challenges. Therefore, let us discuss some of the things you may need to consider for your PCB design.

Which Industries are Modern PCBs Mainly Used In?

PCBs come in three main types:

  • Single-sided
  • Double-sided
  • Multi-layered

Modern PCB designs are multi-layered PCBs containing over 40 layers of copper drilled and laminated. These PCBs are mainly used in industries such as:

  • Consumer electronics
  • LEDs
  • Aerospace components
  • Medical devices
  • Industrial equipment
  • Safety and Security equipment
  • Maritime Applications
  • Automotive components

This must already tell you how vital PCBs are. Hence, they require specific considerations to make the perfect design.

Challenges and Considerations in Modern PCB Design

Some of the challenges that these multi-layered modern PCBs come with are:

  • High pin count of the BGA package
  • Signal integrity
  • Routing
  • Constraints
  • Fine pitch SMD components

So, what are some of the considerations that you need to make?

Keep on reading to find out!

Considerations to be Made for Modern PCBs

Following is some of the considerations that need to be made when it comes to modern PCBs:

Using Flex PCB Instead of Rigid PCB

Rigid PCBs usually cause problems since they are inflexible. This is where you need to use flex PCBs since they can be bent or shaped to fit within any designated system. Using flex PCBs also means that they can be flexed for hundreds of cycles without any failure.

Consider Heat and Vibration-Resistant Components

Considering the thermal and vibration conditions for some components that are used in such PCBs, unique materials should be used to produce PCBs that support the required conditions. Copper is a heat-resistant material which is why it’s mainly used in PCB laminations. Additionally, to prevent vibrations, you should constrain the PCB around the edges or use AVFs (Anti-Vibration Frames).

Place Test Points and Taller Components far apart

It is necessary to place any test points away from the taller components since it will be hard for you to reach them when assessing them.

Select Smaller Component Package Size

Smaller components called the SMDs (Surface Mount Devices) are mounted into the PCBs by SMT (Surface Mounting Technology). Using smaller package-size components means that you can fit them closer together, and the end product will be lightweight and compact.

Multi-purpose design

Multi-purpose designs are yet another thing to consider when it comes to PCBs! Have you ever wished that you could use one PCB to carry out multiple tasks? If yes, then this is the answer for you!

Multi-purpose PCBs are a splendid way to get many works done by just one board as they are designed for two or more purposes.

This way, you can save a lot of the manufacturing cost and time and also get a PCB that is more efficient.

PCB

Double Footprint design

With the modern PCB designs nowadays, there is a shortage of electronic components which can cause problems.

This is where double footprint designs come in.

Double footprint designs allow you to overlay other similar components in the same place. This means that even if there is a shortage of a component, an alternative component can be used instead.

Leave Enough Space between the Traces

It is important to leave adequate space between the traces since packing traces and pads too closely can create a risk of short circuits. This can usually be caused if the traces end up touching each other or connecting during the manufacturing. The ideal gap to be kept between the pads and traces is 0.007” to 0.010”. This will ensure that PCB works efficiently and doesn’t cause a short circuit.

No 90-Degree Angles

Avoid using any 90-degree trace angles when making the lines on your PCB. This is because a 90-degree angle tends to create shaper edges as compared to a 45-degree angle. 45-degree angles have proven to be the most effective since they allow more etches to be made.

Use Vias

Vias can be used to dissipate heat within the layers by providing some electrical connectivity between them. An advantage of using thermal vias is that they can move the heat away from the heat-generating components and take it to an area where it can be dissipated.

Keep the Fiducials in Mind

Fiducials need to be added to the side of that PCB containing the SMTs. Fiducial marks are usually used by surface mount assembly machines, ensuring proper board orientation. Fiducial marks are crucial for a correctly oriented PCB with the right components.

What should you do?

Now that we have seen all the challenges that come with making modern PCBs and the considerations that should be made, it is essential to know who keeps these things in check.

One of the best electronic design and manufacturing companies is Arshon Technology, which takes care of all these PCB engineering services.

Having advanced equipment on hand, such as 3D Optical Inspection System, X-ray Inspection Machines, and fully automated PCB assembly, Arshon technology reduces any chances of error.

3D Optical Inspection Machine for PCB

They understand that Printed Circuit Boards are an essential electronic device component, thus carefully designing and engineering their PCBs. So, if you are considering buying your modern PCBs or are getting them made from anywhere, Arshon Technology is your way to go!

Author: Sara (Fakhri) Siahkar IoT Specialist @ Arshon Technology Inc.