What are Printed Circuit Boards made from?
When developing printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) it’s important to know what materials are available to handle the PCB’s temperature resistance, adhesion, tensile strength and flexibility. By selecting the proper materials, you can make sure that your PCB works in your specific circumstances.
Three Main Types of PCB Materials
There are three main types of materials that may be used in a printed circuit board:
- FR-4. This is the most commonly used material in PCBs. It is a glass-reinforced epoxy laminate sheet made of woven fiberglass cloth and a flame-resistant epoxy resin binder. The tensile strength is extremely high, the board is water resistant, and it provides good insulation between copper layers for good signal integrity.
- PTFE (Teflon). PTFE is a type of plastic material used for high-speed, high-frequency applications. It is strong, lightweight and somewhat flexible. It’s a great pick for applications with tight tolerances because it doesn’t expand much in high temperatures. PTFE is also flame resistant.
- Metal. Metal Core PCB (MCPCB) materials provide great heat dissipation vs conventional materials. The most common types of metal used in printed circuit boards are copper and aluminum. Stainless steel can also be used in some applications. Copper is most popular due to its superior performance and conductivity vs. aluminum, though copper can be more costly. All metals support surface mount technology and their use can extend the life of PCBs due to their thermal management.
Choosing the Best PCB Materials for Your Application
Working with your supplier to determine the best material is important. Some questions to ask include: How much stress will the PCB be exposed to? How hot will it get? What is the safety margin? What is the final application and enclosure?
And of course, in the cases of the use of a PCBA in a life-saving medical device or an airplane, for example, proper selection of materials is critical.
Sonic Manufacturing Technologies recommends choosing a material that meets adequate performance requirements for your application so that you can provide a quality product while staying within your budget. To learn more about your options for a built-to-order PCB, contact our team today for a quote.