With the massive acceptance of the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and chip components, there has been a massive surge in the use of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). Now, many PCB manufacturers are looking for ways to integrate the Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) into their list of services.
You may have heard about Ceramic PCBs and the tremendous impacts on the electronics manufacturing processes. But, you are yet to understand what it means let alone knowing how to choose the best Ceramic PCB manufacturers.
In this article, we will show the length and breadth of the Ceramic PCB starting from the meaning to the advantages and down to how to select the manufacturers.
What Is Ceramic PCB?
The Ceramic PCB is the type of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that is designed with a ceramic base. The design of this type of PCB also makes it possible for Ceramic PCB to fit into the structure of the entire circuit board without compromising on the performance.
The most outstanding feature of the Ceramic PCB is the printing of the conductive pathways on the materials used on the circuit board. That way, there wouldn’t be any hitches as there could have been if the pathways were printed on the circuit board.
Moreover, the Ceramic PCB is famed for the excellent heat dissipation that because of the high thermal conductivity and the minimal expansion coefficient (CTE).
Ceramic Substrate vs. FR4 Material
The glass fiber (FR4) Printed Circuit Board may have its advantages, but it is not a strong competitor to the ceramic substrate PCB.
So, what makes the Ceramic PCB better than that of the traditional PCBs made from FR4 materials?
The major reason why the Ceramic PCB is better than the other made from the FR4 material is because of heat dissipation. The higher thermal conductivity it has and the overall performance of the Ceramic PCB makes it easier for heat to get in touch with other components of the circuit board.
Types of Ceramic PCBs
Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) come in different sizes and shapes. It is the types of Ceramic PCBs that we want to consider so you will learn about the different ways they function.
The essence of the Thick Film Ceramic PCB is to make it easier for the copper to be protected from oxidation.
It must be mentioned that this singular feature sets the Thick Film Ceramic PCB apart from what we have in the traditional PCBs because of the advanced thickness and protective tendencies.
Low Temperature Ceramic PCB
This type of Ceramic PCB is noted for the higher thermal benefits that it has to offer.
Because of that, the success of the Low Temperature Ceramic PCB (LTCC) is because of the low temperature that it uses. And that is because of the evolutionary shrink tolerance and the less warpage.
High Temperature Ceramic PCB
The last but not the least is the High Temperature Ceramic PCB. Aside from the advanced temperature, this type also uses some of the best materials, such as aluminum oxide, plasticizer, mixing adhesive, and solvent mixed with raw ceramics.
Why Should I Design Ceramic PCB?
You may be wondering why you should use the Ceramic Printed Circuit Board (PCB) in the first place.
Below are some of the reasons and advantages that the Ceramic PCB has over the traditional FR-4 material:
1. Higher Insulation
The first reason why the Ceramic PCB has more advantage over the traditional Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) is because of the superior insulation. Getting this insulation is important because anything short of that can cause the Ceramic PCB to suffer from any voltage issues.
First, the Ceramic PCB offers higher and superior insulation because of the ability to withstand the inconsistencies that tend to emanate when the voltage fluctuates.
The second reason why the superior insulation is better is because of the proper insulation given to the electrical resistance properties.
2. Superior Thermal Conductivity
The ability to transfer heat effectively is another reason why the Ceramic PCB offers better precision than the traditional PCBs do.
When looking at the high-quality thermal conductivity, the focus is usually on the excellent transfer of heat. Because heat tends to damage the circuit board if not effectively transferred, it makes sense that the superior thermal conductivity offered by the Ceramic PCB is commendable.
The trio of Beryllium Oxide, Aluminum Oxide, and Aluminum Nitride are the core values of the superior thermal conductivity provided by the Ceramic PCB.
3. Low Dielectric Constant
When a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) works in a high humidity environment and under higher temperatures, the functionality might be low.
It is in consideration of it that the low Dielectric Constant (DK) of the Ceramic PCB is there to help. What it does is to keep the Ceramic circuit board to keep functioning effectively even when the temperature and humidity are high.
You wouldn’t want to design and manufacture a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that may end up not lasting for many years. If that happens, you will have to spend more money to either fix the issues or to design another.
Considering that, the Ceramic PCB is there to help with the long-lasting and durable effects. It is designed in a way that the circuit board can withstand and work well under extreme pressure and heat.
5. Multiple Layer Support
Integrating or adding more layers to a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) may not be a daunting task if there were support for multiple layers.
The Ceramic PCB has an easy multi-layering that allows for the integration of more layers into the circuit board. That is in addition to the high mechanical strength of the board that enables the support for multiple layers, which means handling complex work.
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) needn’t be extra-large or bigger before they can function. Sometimes, being small and compact is the key to enable the support for complex tasks.
Because the Ceramic PCB is smaller and compact, it becomes easier to integrate it into different use cases without bothering about the space it will take up.
7. High-Quality Materials
The quality of the materials used in designing a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) also matters. And if you are not sure of the right type of sturdy materials, some offer better performance.
Most of those high-quality PCB materials are used on the Ceramic PCB. From aluminum oxide to aluminum nitride, these materials are designed to offer higher conductivity and withstand a high amount of heat.
Another reason why the Ceramic PCB is preferred over the traditional FR4 material is because of the adaptability. It means that the board can be used for many industrial purposes.
For example, the adaptability features make it easier for the Ceramic PCB to offer a higher wear resistance and mechanical stiffness.
Ceramic PCBs aren’t limited to one or a few use cases. Instead, the use cases are many thanks to the versatility of the circuit board.
That informs the reason why the Ceramic PCB is used in many high-powered applications. Some of the use cases are:
- Use in high-powered Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
- Applying the Ceramic PCBs in devices that require extreme precision and higher heat emission.
Guide to Choosing the Best Ceramic PCB Manufacturer
If you were to design a Ceramic PCB, you will be looking for the best manufacturer to handle the job for you.
In light of that, you must look for the best Ceramic PCB manufacturer that has an eye for details, mastery of the process, and fast turnaround time.
Below, we have shared some of the helpful tips that will lead you by the hand until you locate the best Ceramic PCB manufacturer that will handle the job.
1. Laser Drilling Technology
As the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) industry continues to evolve, it is opening up the opportunities for the addition of the use of relevant technologies.
Laser drilling technology is one of the latest and most used technological advancements that aid in the manufacturing process of the Ceramic PCB. So, it makes sense that you base your search for a Ceramic PCB on that.
Here are some of the benefits and the reasons why laser drilling technology is a better option for designing Ceramic PCBs:
- No pollution
- Environmental protection
- It offers higher precision
- Large-scale batch punching
- High speed
Laser drilling technology is also widely used because of the interoperable use of both soft and hard materials.
2. Application Fields
Some Ceramic PCB manufacturers have some application fields that they tend to perform better. So, if you already have an idea of the potential use case or application field of the Ceramic PCB, you will find it easier to check the manufacturer that can meet that need.
Here are some of the application fields and use cases of the Ceramic PCB:
- Multi-layer interconnect board
- Memory module
- Transmission module
3. Conductor Materials
Have you figured out the materials that will be used in constructing the board of the Ceramic PCB?
If you haven’t, there are many options out there, and each of them has specific use cases and advantages.
First, Ceramic PCBs with silver traces are ideal if you are working on a budget. The only major downside to using the silver trace conductor materials is because of the non-durability; meaning that it can get damaged after a while.
The gold-plated conductor materials are sturdier and tend to last longer than the silver traces would. You only have to spend more money to get this type of conductor material.
Another important aspect of the Ceramic PCB is to select the type that you want. There are two major types. When you understand how these works, it wouldn’t be difficult for you to select the PCB manufacturer that will offer you the service you need.
The first type of Ceramic PCB is called the Direct Copper Bonded (DCB) Ceramic PCB. This variant is ideal if you are not looking at the size of the PCB alone. It allows you to etch the circuit board into different layouts.
On the other hand, you might want to design the Thin-Plate Ceramic PCB, which is the second type of the Ceramic Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The designation of this type is that it helps to mold the circuit board into a compact size.
5. Minimum Order Quantity
How many quantities or pieces can the Ceramic PCB manufacturer design within a specific time?
You should start looking at this from the perspective of the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ). It is the limited or the few numbers of the Ceramic PCB that the manufacturer can accept.
While you are looking at the limited amount of Ceramic PCBs that the manufacturer can design, the cost should also be considered.
Ensure that the cost of the Ceramic PCB should fit into the budget you have made. At the same time, consider adding some money to your budget if the quality of the Ceramic PCB design is a bit higher than what you already budgeted.
7. Hybrid Integration
The Ceramic PCB shouldn’t be limited to one use cases and applications. The design of the circuit board should be something that can be integrated and used for many applications.
8. Number of Layers
The layers of the Ceramic PCB are another important factor you must consider when looking to choose a manufacturer.
There has been some confusion that has been commonplace on the number of layers that the Ceramic PCB should have. The number of layers is to be determined by the type of Ceramic Printed Circuit Board (PCB) you want to design because the use cases differ.
Despite that, the minimum number of layers that the Ceramic PCB should have is two. If the type you want to be designed has more advanced uses, the number of layers can also be increased.
Ceramic substrate PCB has far better advantages and applications than what the traditional FR4 material PCB has to offer.
Having learned about the features and the reasons why it is better, we encourage you to use the guide above to select the best Ceramic PCB manufacturer.
What are the things you look for and consider before you outsource your Ceramic PCB project to a PCB manufacturer?