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PCBCart Team

Sep 16th, 2020

Is Your PCB Right for Your Project?

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), also called Printed Wiring Boards (PWB), form the backbone of all major electronics, playing a key role in electrical connection effect so that design-based functions of electronic equipment can be totally implemented.

PCBs come in a number of different compositions which allow them to serve in a variety of applications. It can be classified into various categories based on different classification standards:
• Single-layer PCBs, double-layer PCBs and multi-layer PCBs based on circuit board layer count;
• Rigid PCBs, flexible PCBs, flex-rigid PCBs, High-Tg PCBs and Halogen-free PCBs based on attributes of different substrate materials;
• Low-frequency PCBs and high-frequency PCBs based on different application. To comply with fast development of modern electronics and people's high demands for higher processing speed of electronics, high-frequency PCBs are widely applied in aerospace, defense, telecommunications etc. industries.
• Other types of PCB boards are also widely applied including metal core PCBs (MCPCBs), LED PCBs, High Density Interconnect PCBs and thick copper PCBs (AKA heavy copper PCBs). In recent years, environmental protection is gaining increasingly international attention, materials like halogen-free materials compatible with demands a green and clean earth strives for are becoming more acceptable by industries. As a result, halogen-free PCBs have become a new alternative for some upcoming industries. For those new to PCB industry, feel free to read our blog post on printed circuit board introduction and categories. This article will briefly discuss various industries that utilize PCBs, with an emphasis on the types of PCBs commonly used in these fields.

Defense/Military and Aerospace Applications

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Both defense/military and aerospace products have to work owing to their high precision to make their functions totally implemented. When it comes to military and aerospace electronics, PCB boards play a key role in contributing to high reliability and high performance of those applications. Military applications applying PCBs mainly include:
• Audio interface applications
• Automatic search jamming systems
• Base/camp protection and security
• Command and control systems
• Cross targeting systems
• Cyber counterintelligence systems
• Defense navigation and communication systems
• Distributed tactical communication systems
• Digital information processing systems
• LED lighting systems
• Power systems
• Propulsion systems
• Radio communication systems
• Robotic systems
• Ruggedized computers
• Satellite subsystems using embedded processors
• Simulators

Aerospace applications applying PCBs mainly include:
• Central air data computer (CADC)
• Digitalized signal and microwave processing systems
• Electronic flight instrumentation systems
• Full authority digital engine control system (FADEC)
• Ground station applications
• Passive detection systems
• Satellite equipment

Military and aerospace circuit boards demand higher requirements compared with ordinary circuit boards. First, they need to withstand UNCOMMONLY HARSH ENVIRONMENT including extreme operating temperature ranges, high humidity or extreme drought, high air pressure or extremely low pressure etc. Consequently, their material and composite has to be selected in accordance with extreme environmental conditions. Secondly, they have to be able to serve for LONGER TIME. Different from consumer electronic products, military and aerospace products have to continue working for extended period of time due to regulations of their working features and missions. Thus, defense and aerospace boards have to be fabricated under regulations compatible with higher manufacturing standards like ISO 9001:2008 or IPC Class 3, etc.

Among all circuit boards, flex PCBs is commonly the basis of automotive and aerospace applications as they can conform to very tight spaces and are light weight. Additionally, those kind of applications are just such a high vibration environment while as flexible PCBs can be subject to a great deal of vibration.

Consumer Electronic Applications

Image sourced from Google

Consumer electronic applications account for the largest part among all products depending on printed circuit boards. They can be either big, like LED lighting, packaging equipment, televisions, printers or relatively small, like coffee makers, cameras, mobile phones, memory card, mouse etc.

Consumer electronics are ever present in our daily lives. Considering the time that we spend using cell phones, televisions and computers the impact and utility of consumer electronics is remarkable. The one thing that ties all these products together is their reliance on the use of PCBs in their manufacture. High volume PCBs (with low per unit cost) are used to drive down the price of the electronics they are utilized in and have the added benefit of making the manufacture of the electronics they are used in cheaper and highly uniform.

Given those products are so close to people's daily life that they have to be capable of implementing functions to meet people's different demands. Therefore, the circuit boards consumer electronic products rely on have to conform to people's daily working and living requirements. First, they have to be manufactured under rigorous manufacturing REGULATIONS and STANDARDS. Official certificates, ISO, UL or RoHS help demonstrate capabilities of a PCB manufacturer and regulate the whole fabrication process. Secondly, boards serving for consumer electronic products tend to call for small size, leading to higher requirement of DENSITY. Based on the development trend of modern electronic products, it is an obvious tendency that electronic products are becoming increasingly smaller in size and volume. People have been constantly digging ways to spare more space. Less space for electronic products derives from higher density of circuit and connections on a circuit board. Therefore, more layers and high density printed circuit boards fit for consumer electronic applications, we suggest Multi-layer PCBs and HDI PCBs.

Medical Applications

Image sourced from Google

Medical applications are widely applied in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, special care facilities, ambulance service and dental facilities. Concerning products with applications of medical printed circuit boards include:
• Artificial Heart Pacemakers
• Blood Glucose Monitors
• Blood Pressure Monitors
• Body Temperature Monitors
• CT scan systems
• Defibrillators
• Electrical Muscle Stimulation Equipment
• Electromyography (EMG) Equipment
• Flow Rate & Dispensing Systems
• Heart Monitors
• Heart Pacemakers
• Intravenous Therapy Infusion Pumps
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
• Medical Imaging Systems
• Neurological Stimulus
• Telemedicine Systems
• Ultrasonic Equipment
• Vesicle Pressure Measurement
• Vital Sign Monitoring Systems
• X-ray Computed Tomography

Because medical equipment is closely associated with issues concerning people's lives, any detailed inaccuracy possibly causes negative effects or even disasters. As a result, PCBs responsible for medical functions implementation have to be equipped with EXTREME RELIABILITY, OPTIMUM PRECISION and DEPENDABILITY. Furthermore, when it comes to medical products manufacturers, proper quality control is one of the most important services they have to provide since it is capable of ensuring long-standing high quality of products. Then, when it comes to circuit boards used in those equipment, convenience for board inspection and rework should be taken highly of.

Due to the special constraints of medical devices and wearable type devices, creating the smallest and densest design possible is invariably of great importance. For this reason specialty high density PCBs (often referred to as HDI PCB or high density interconnection type PCBs) are commonly used in medical device applications. Additionally, flexible PCBs are also commonly used in medical device applications. Often the ability of a device to flex while being used is integral to its function as a medical device.

Telecom Applications

Image sourced from Google

Products in telecommunications industry call for a wide range of PCBs used in numerous telecom application sectors including land wired communication systems, wireless systems, mass storage systems, digital and analog broadcasting systems etc. Telecom products using circuit boards include:
• Broadband & Consumer Equipment
• Cell transmission and tower electronics
• Cellular phone networks
• Fiber Optic Multiplexers
• Fixed & Mobile Networks
• High speed routers and servers
• Information security technology
• Military communications systems
• Mobile telecommunication systems
• PBX systems
• Phone switching systems
• Satellite technology
• Security technology and information communication systems
• Signal Amplification Devices
• Signal boost online systems
• Space communications technology
• Switching Applications (Controllers, Heating, and Sensing)
• Technology for commercial phones
• Video collaboration
• Voice over internet protocol
• Waveguide Grating Devices
• Wireless industrial and commercial phone technology

Based on people's demands on telecom products nowadays, PCBs have to match the ever-changing needs in terms of harsh environment withstanding capability, small size and high speed. In order to meet those demands, printed circuit boards ready for telecom applications should depend on excellent materials, suitable copper weights, high Dk level and fully thermal properties. Therefore, multi-layer PCBs, HDI PCBs, flex PCBs and flex-rigid PCBs form the majority of all telecom application participation.

Apart from the application categories discussed above, maritime PCBs, industrial grade PCBs and LED PCBs are also applied to a large extent to meet increasingly higher requirement and demands. Everybody wants to find right printed circuit boards for his or her project, the attributes and functions a project aims to achieve determine the selection of boards. Differential applications call for differential application conditions, functions and service life and your picked circuit board has to meet the unique needs of your project.

Reach PCBCart for all of your PCB production demands

Owing to 15 years' experience in PCB fabrication and assembly, PCBCart specializes in all types of PCBs manufacturing, ranging from Aluminum PCBs, LED PCBs, HDI PCBs, flex PCBs, Flex-rigid PCBs, High-frequency PCBs, Thick copper PCBs, High-Tg PCBs and Halogen-free PCBs. In harmony with regulations and manufacturing standards of ISO9001, UL and RoHS, we have been striving for providing high-quality PCBs at competitively low cost just so as to meet every-changing needs of your projects. Whenever you're ready to discuss your project, we're right here for you. Counseling is always free and is warmly welcomed!

Helpful Resources
Full Feature PCB Fabrication Service
Advanced PCB Assembly Service
Components Sourcing Service
How to Evaluate A PCB Manufacturer or A PCB Assembler
PCB Material Selection Guide

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