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How does PCB laminate work

How-does-PCB-laminate-work

PCB laminate is a thin sheet of plastic coated with a thermosetting polymer that is used for the electronic components on printed circuit boards (PCBs). The most common material for this application is FR-4, but other materials may be used depending on the product’s requirements.

This article provides an overview of the process and specification of PCB Laminate to help you make an informed decision when choosing one for your application.

What is PCB laminate?

As mentioned earlier, PCB laminate is a thin piece of material that is used to protect and insulate your PCB. There are several different types of materials available, including FR-4, glass cloth, phenolic paper, and phenolic laminates. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages.

phenolic-paper

Introduce the process of lamination

Laminating is the process of strengthening, protecting, and waterproofing a range of materials by stacking and bonding consecutive layers of material. When it comes to PCB lamination, you need to consider the process used for the manufacturing of laminated boards. There are two types of processes, i.e. wet and dry.

The wet process uses an adhesive applied by a screen printer or roller applicator specifically designed for this purpose. The material is heated before being laminated onto each side of your substrate using pressure rollers until all layers are bonded together.

The dry process involves applying adhesive at room temperature without any heating required before bonding with pressure rollers until all layers have been bonded together.

The characteristics of PCB material types

There are four general types of PCB laminate materials. Each has its characteristics and is used for different reasons, but all can provide excellent performance in a variety of applications.

●Paper laminate: A single layer of paper, often polyimide–impregnated paper covered with a thin layer of epoxy resin. Paper is the most common and least expensive type of PCB laminate material. It is used when whenever the circuit itself is not sensitive to mechanical stress.

●FR-4: Glass fiber reinforced epoxy laminate that provides good mechanical strength but has relatively poor electrical properties. It is commonly used when high heat transfer is necessary due to poor ventilation or when there is no heat sink nearby.

●Teflon: It is a type of plastic substance utilized in high-frequency applications and shows no resistance. Due to its exceptional flexibility, it is useful in applications requiring high tolerance.

high-frequency-application

●Metals: In PCBs, metals like copper, aluminum, iron, etc. can be used. These metals effectively integrate components using Surface Mount Technology (SMT). Additionally, they have high mechanical strength. As a result, metal core PCB has a substantially longer useful lifespan.

Types of laminate and what kinds of board they are used for

The following table shows different types of PCB laminate and the type of board it can be used in.

Laminate

Board Type

BT Epoxy

Lead-free PCBs

Polyimide

Multilayer and denser PCBs

Copper Clad

High voltage circuits

Teflon

High frequency apps

 

Why FR-4 is the most widely used laminate?

The composite material known as FR-4 is made of flam-retardant epoxy resin and woven fiberglass cloth. FR-4 is the most widely used Laminate material because of the following reasons:

•They are applicable to double-layer PCBs.

•Although FR-4 material has low thermal efficiency, its power specs and UL flame ratings can be improved by using a combination of additives. These mixtures can also improve the board’s resistance to mechanical stresses.

low-thermal-effciency

• FR-4 is a strong mechanically, electrically, and thermally stable material.  Furthermore, they are perfect for the majority of electrical applications due to their weight properties.

How to select PCB laminate materials?

Choosing a suitable PCB material is more complicated than it looks; before deciding on a particular type, one must take into account all of the following factors.

1.Quality. The most important consideration when choosing a PCB laminate material is quality. After assembly, the PCB must perform according to the desired specifications wherever it is required to be used. However, it would be only possible if the crafted board has the proper material applied to it so that it will function properly when put under physical stress.

2.Cost. The designers can always select the best materials because there are so many different types of PCB materials. When designing, a lot of people use gold or alloy tabs. However, the gold tabs are somewhat expensive. In many situations, choosing expensive materials is not practical because the total cost must be taken into account. When selecting the PCB laminate material, the price should be taken into consideration.

3.Power. The characteristics of PCB are different according to the kind of material, as already mentioned. When exposed to flame for a short period, some substances are sensitive to intense burning, whereas some can withstand burning. Similarly, different materials have different thermal properties, which have an impact on how well they can dissipate heat.

How to choose an ideal PCB laminate machine?

To choose an ideal PCB laminate machine, you must consider the following factors:

1. Consider your needs:

• What are your PCB laminate machine needs?

• What are the specific features you need in your machine?

2. Consider your budget:

• How much you can afford to spend on a PCB laminate machine?

• Discounts offered.

• Other costs involved.

3. Features of the machine:

• What are the features of the machine that you prefer?

• What are the features of the machine that you do not prefer?

• How do the features of the machine match up to your needs and budget?

4. Machine reliability to consider:

• Reputation of the manufacturer.

• Warranty

• If the machine is under warranty, how long is the warranty? Keeping in mind these factors will make it easy which PCB laminate machine you should choose.

The difference between prepreg and laminate

prepreg

Prepreg is incomplete core material while laminate is complete and cured core material. Prepreg is used to join two copper layers or to join a copper and a core while keeping the two materials apart from one another, whereas laminate is used as an isolating layer between copper layers.

I hope this article will be helpful for you.

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