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Technological Trends in the Field of Circuit Board Design and Manufacturing


Circuit boards are extensively used across in the electronics industry. So much so that nowadays a circuit board designer is expected to be also proficient in the manufacturing technology apart from understanding electrical engineering. Read this article which will provide you with an insight on the various current and emerging technological trends prevailing in the manufacture of printed circuit boards. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Technological Trends in the Field of Circuit Board Design and Manufacturing


Technological Trends in the Field of Circuit
Board Design Manufacturing

Published by

Introduction Circuit boards are found in all
electronic products. The advancement in
semiconductor technology is driving the giant
electronics industry. PCB industry has been
quickly responding to the rapidly evolving global
electronics market. Today, circuit board
designers should have a thorough knowledge of
both electrical engineering and manufacturing
technology. Collaborating with EMS vendors during
early stages will helps the designers to reduce
design risks and find cost effective solutions.
This article will provide a brief overview of
the technological trends prevailing in the field
of printed circuit technology and serve as a
walkthrough to the lesser known technologies in
the printed circuit market.  

Market trends


Asian countries continue to fulfil the majority
of the global PCB demand. China, South Korea, and
Taiwan continue to fulfill the huge demand
created by markets for smartphone, tablet
computers, display monitors, and TV. Export to
western countries also accounts for a major chunk
of the global PCB demand because of highly
competitive pricing offered by the Asian PCB
manufacturing industry. The European PCB
industry focuses on low volume and high-end
markets like instrumentation and control,
automotive, medical, military, and aerospace.
Production in North America is dominated by the
USA, largely occupied by military, aerospace and
defense sectors. From technological point of
view, a standard multilayer PCB still commands a
large share of the market. With global trend of
miniaturization of electronic products, HDI and
Rigid-Flex technology will continue to grow in

Industry Challenges With advancement in ICs
package technology, mobile revolution, and IOT
kicking in, PCB geometries will continue to
shrink. Designing ultra-thin printed circuit
boards which meets the required signal integrity
and EMC specifications at low cost will be
  • Technology Trends
  • Printed circuit boards can be broadly classified
  • Conventional PCB (Single-sided, Double-sided and
    Multilayer PCB)
  • Flexible and Rigid-Flex PCB
  • High Density Interconnect (HDI)


Example HDI board using 2-N-2 HDI Buildup (N
number of standard layers)

HDI technology has been used in manufacturing
products like wearables, smartphones, and tablet
devices. One of the major challenges faced by
the PCB industry is increasing the layer count
and reducing the thickness of the circuit boards
without compromising the structural rigidity and
electrical performance of a PCB. The average
thickness of a PCB is around 0.5 mm to 0.7 mm and
is expected to be less than 0.4 mm in next few
years. Compared to the 0.7mm pitch BGA package
used in smartphones a few years ago, latest
smartphones uses 0.4 mm pitch BGA package which
offers a higher pin count in smaller PCB real
estate. The IC industry has already been working
on 0.3mm pitch BGA technology for next generation
microprocessors and FPGAs.

IC substrate manufacturers have developed mSAP
(Modified Semi Additive Process) process which is
capable of creating fine lines with better
conductor geometry. The HDI PCB industry is
adapting to the mSAP process to tackle the
upcoming challenges. While 90 of production uses
the Contact Imaging Process today. Laser direct
imaging (LDI) looks like a promising technology
for the future. With 0.3 mm pitch BGA, microvia
pad/hole size is expected to be in the order of
150um/75um, respectively. While, PCB industry
will continue to use CO2 laser for drilling
microvia in near future. New lasers with
picosecond pulse are coming to the market which
offers finer holes and drastically lower thermal
damage. ALV (Any Layer Via) HDI technology is
currently expensive and requires a
state-of-the-art facility. In coming years, 10 to
12 layer microvia layer buildup will be common in
next generation handheld and wearable devices.

Rigid flex technology has enabled designers to
replace the PCB connectors and wire with single
PCB, offering improved performance, reliability,
and reduced weight. Rigid Flex HDI offers
designer to build next generation electronics
device which can follow the form. With wearable
technology gaining popularity, the use of Flex
and Rigid Flex HDI technology will continue to
Embedded Components Since several years, various
3D-Integreation approaches have been explored to
keep the pace with the continuing trend towards
electronics miniaturization and densification.
PCB embedding of passive and active devices has
emerged as a highly potential and scalable
technology that enables a substantial increment
in the functionality and system performance.
Though, the technology is not new and has been
used in high tech aerospace and military
applications, since 1980s.

In recent times, the technology has only recently
become a commercially viable solution.
Embedded Passives

Embedded passives are passive components (like
resistor, capacitor, etc.) buried into the
substrate material. The IPC document IPC-2316
Design Guide for Embedded Passive Devices Printed
Circuit Board provides necessary information for
incorporating embedded passive components in the
PCB. Embedding resistor with the circuit board
uses thin file (subtractive process) and thick
file (additive process). Thin file technology
uses bi-metal alloy film like NiP, NiCr or
NiCrAlSi, which is deposited on the copper foil.
The copper and nickel are then etched to create
nickel resistors with copper terminations. The
technology offers limited resistance range 25 to
250 ohm/square.

Thick film technology uses polymer thick films
which are printed either directly on the etched
copper terminations or on screened silver plate
terminations. Interposing screened polymer silver
paste between the copper and resistor results in
highly reliable and stable resistor. As
multiple materials can be printed on the same
layer, thick film technology offers wide
resistance range 20 ohm to 10 Mohm. Embedded
capacitors uses planar embedded capacitor
laminates. These high dielectric laminates are
used to create planer capacitor layers which are
accessed using VIAs. New smaller packages
discrete passive component also known as embed
discrete which can be buried in the PCB materials
adds new possibility with the embedded component
  • The advantage of using embedded passives
    components are
  • Improved system performance Improved signal
    integrity, reduced EMI and reduce parasitic.
  • Achieve higher active circuit density and board
  • Reduction in circuit board size and weight.
  • Reduction in assembly cost.

Embedded Actives Embedded actives refer to the
technology of embedding active devices into the
circuit board. It is most commonly found in
integrated circuit packaging. As integrated chips
are turning into chip-sets, 3D packaging of the
integrated circuits is quite common.
  • Embedding ICs within the circuit board may vary
    based on the following approaches
  • Embedded wafer level package
  • Embedded Chip Buildup
  • Chip in polymer

Substrate materials Glass fiber / epoxy prepregs
have dominated the PCB market for decades. FR-4
has become the standard substrate for PCBs, which
uses only woven fiberglass and epoxy. Traditional
printed circuit board (PCB) laminate materials
have their limitations to support these
high-speed and RF/Microwave applications. The
demand for higher frequency and faster data
transmission rates has been rapidly increasing.

New substrate materials like Resin Coated Copper
(RCC) / Resin Coated Film (RCF), Liquid Crystal
Polymer (LCP), and vacuum-laminated films have
been introduced. PCB laminate manufacturers like
ROGERS, ISOLA, ARLON, ITEQ are offering high
performance low and ultra-low dielectric loss
(Df lt 0.007) and cost effective solutions with
the rapidly changing electronics market.
  Following image represents the performance v/s
cost comparison of the few substrates in the

Category Relative Cost wrt. FR4 substrate
Tier 1 1x
Tier 2 1x
Tier 3 1x
Tier 4 1.5x
Tier 5 3x

Creating your next embedded carrier
board   Toradex computer-on-modules make use of
the latest PCB technology to create high
performance embedded computer modules. Toradexs
embedded computing solutions (system-on-modules
and carrier boards) takes advantage of both HDI
technology and industry standard multilayer
technology. This unique combination enables our
customers to create next generation embedded
solutions at a very low cost.
Accelerated development and reduced design risks
In order to speed up your development time and
reduce the development risk associated with
custom carrier board development, Toradex
provides reference designs of our carrier boards
in electronic format.


These reference designs include all schematics,
layout, and IPC-7351 compliant component
libraries in Altium designer format. By reusing
hardware subsystems already deployed on our
off-the-shelf carrier board solutions, you can
ensure that you are starting with a design which
works and has been designed to specifically
support Toradexs computer-on-modules. Toradex
Carrier Board Design Guide helps circuit
designers to gain better understanding of the
embedded computer module solution offered by
Toradex and other interfaces in-order to create a
custom carrier board. The Toradex Pinout
Designer is a powerful tool for configuring the
pin muxing of the Colibri and Apalis modules. The
tool allows comparing the interfaces of different
Toradex modules. It's easy to check whether
existing carrier boards are compatible with the
latest Toradex modules.

Custom carrier board design often includes high
speed interfaces like PCIe, SATA, USB, Ethernet,
etc. Toradex layout design guide provides a
wealth of very valuable technical information to
help you with designing your own custom carrier
board. Important information regarding circuit
design and layout helps ensure that you get your
design right first time.
Manufacturing Updated Bill of material for
Toradex carrier boards is available on the Ciiva
BOM management tool. Ciiva provides a fully
traceable, version-controlled BOM
management. Generating 3D design data Toradex
PCB footprint libraries include accurate 3D step
models for most of the components. During design
phase, it helps provide designers the provision
to inspect the carrier board in 3D view. It
allows PCB design engineers to work in
collaboration with the industrial design team.
3D-step models can output of the custom carrier
can be generated and can be shared with the
industrial engineering team and vise-versa.

Please refer the below for more information
m-family/carrier-board-design www.developer.torade
Thank you!