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Types of PCBs

Jul. 07, 2021

There are many types of PCBs on the market. The challenge is to choose the right type for your application. Read on to learn how to choose between the most common types of PCBs.


Types of PCBs

Types of PCBs include single-layer, double-layer, and multi-layer, all of which can be produced in various thicknesses. Manufacturers also differentiate PCBs based on the stiffness of the substrate. this differentiation is the first factor to consider when choosing a PCB.


Flexible Printed Circuit Boards

There are many advantages to using flexible substrates to build circuits. As a result, the industry trend is moving toward flexible PCBs. An important reason for this migration is that OEMs often want to make their devices as small as possible, and flexible PCBs help them achieve this goal by using 3D packaging.

Flexible PCBs consist of a pattern of conductive circuits on a thin polyimide or other insulating polymer film. Often, you will find similar films or used to protect conductor circuits.

Rigid PCBs

  Rigid PCBs

You will use flexible PCB designs in applications where

You are tight on space. Flexible PCBs can produce the smallest package size of any type of PCB.

You need a circuit board to meet your requirements. Only flexible PCBs can be bent to accommodate the smallest types of devices, and they can be bent 360 degrees.

You need high tensile strength. Flexible PCBs can be bent or molded without damaging it.

You need a high degree of design freedom and installation flexibility. Flexible PCBs can take many shapes.

You need a high degree of reliability and durability. Flexible PCBs are more reliable than other types of PBCs, in part because the board contains fewer interconnections.

Your application generates heat. Flexible PCBs perform well at all temperatures, and you get better airflow and heat dissipation with or without heat sinks.

Your application exposes components to shock and vibration. Flexible PCBs can withstand vibration better than other types of PCBs.


Here are some typical examples of flexible PCB applications.

Consumer electronics. With flexible PCBs, it is easier to keep up with the maximum speed that computers use to write data. They can also withstand the heat of disk drives that get hot over long periods of use. Other applications include printers, TVs, and gaming systems.

Automotive electronics. Automotive engineers like the ability to fit flexible PCBs into small, contoured spaces. They are also popular because they can withstand the heat generated by the engine compartment and the vibrations of driving.

Smartphones. As consumers demand smaller handheld devices, flexible PCBs can help engineers meet this challenge.


Rigid PCBs

These PCBs use a rugged substrate or rigid board, which means the PCB will not bend or twist. A common material used for PCBs is FR-4, a flame-retardant glass fiber epoxy laminate. Other PCBs may use Teflon, ceramics, and polymers.

You will most often use rigid PCBs in applications where components are fixed and must withstand applied stress and high temperatures.


Here are some examples of typical rigid PCB applications.

Industrial Electronics. Industrial uses of rigid PCBs include robotics, gas controllers, surge suppressors, and pick-and-place devices.

Aerospace: Aerospace applications typically include the use of copper and aluminum substrates and high-temperature laminates. Examples include cockpit instrumentation, temperature sensors, and control tower instrumentation.

Medical: The medical industry uses many flexible PCBs, but large fixed devices such as MRI systems often use rigid PCBs.


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