An Introduction of Ceramic PCB
When it comes to science and technology, it can be said that the world has come a long way in this journey.
From the simple to the complex, there is much progress that one can find in every aspect of our lifestyle.
Of the many such developments that have come about, one of the more underrated ones is that of PCBs or Printed Circuit Boards.
An innovation from the later part of the 20th century, it played a key role in creating stable and sturdy structures and helped eliminate wires to a very large extent.
Today, PCBs have been found to be useful in a variety of applications, ranging from toys to spacecrafts.
And when it comes to the varieties of PCBs around, it can be said that there are quite a few, each of which has their own degree of specialization and uses.
One such variety is that made using ceramics, which are some of the more interesting and unique ones around. Although ceramic PCBs aren’t heard about by many, they do exist and are an important aspect of the technological world.
There is much that can be said about ceramic PCBs and the many benefits that they offer.
Given in the points below are some key details about ceramic PCBs.
The Manufacture of Ceramic PCBs
As the name would suggest, ceramic PCBs are those PCBs which have a base comprised of ceramics.
The main substrate used in the PCB is made out of ceramic, which creates the foundation and base on which other components are installed. The next layer is that of a copper conducting layer, which makes up the circuits. Other layers may exist between the copper and ceramic layer, as well as on top of the copper one, which together comprise the ceramic PCB.
Ceramic PCBs in turn, may be single or dual sided, meaning that it may have circuits on one or both sides, depending on the requirement.
Nature of the Ceramic Base
Given that the base for the PCB is made out of ceramic, it would be useful to look into the nature of the same.
As the name would suggest, the ceramic is the same as any other everyday ceramic, in terms of basic structure and chemistry. At the same time however, the ingredient used for the same often varies.
Today, the ceramics are made out of a variety of materials, depending on the nature of their requirement. At the same time however, the most common being a mix of adhesives, solvents, plasticizers, lubricants and aluminum oxide, which together make up the rough composition of most ceramic PCBs used today.
In addition to this, another thing worth noting is that the exact nature and composition of the ingredients will however, vary depending on the PCB and manufacturer.
Benefits of Using Ceramic PCBs
There are several benefits to using ceramic PCBs, with the most important ones listed below.
- High Thermal Conductivity – Ceramic PCBs have a high degree of thermal conductivity compared to several other materials.
This makes them ideal for applications where a lot of heat is generated, and which needs to be removed on an ongoing basis. While most applications tend to use PCBs made out of aluminum for this purpose, PCBs with a base made out of ceramics are increasingly being considered as an ideal choice.
- Higher Thermal Expansion Coefficient – Although this might seem like an alien concept to some, it is in simple words, refers to the ability of a material to expand, on absorbing heat.
What this means that, in applications where a lot of heat may be generated, the resulting expansion of the material will not have any adverse effect on the integrity or functionality of the board. This is important, given that the expansion of the boards beyond a certain limit can lead to the rest of the circuitry falling apart.
- Insulation Properties – An important characteristic of ceramic boards is that they are often, depending on the material being used, insulating in nature.
This allows for the circuitry to maintain a steady flow of electricity, without losses of the same in any way.
- Multi-Layered Design – As opposed to other PCBs, those made out of ceramic can be designed in several layers.
This allows for the same to be used for greater capacity than traditional boards, as well as allow for more complex applications than what would have been possible.
- Usable in Harsh Environments – Ceramic boards which have no organic components are generally tolerant of harsh environments, allowing for the same to withstand phenomena such as cosmic rays, and are therefore used in applications such as aerospace applications.
The Drawbacks of Using Ceramic PCBs
As with anything, there happen to be a few drawbacks as well, when it comes to using ceramic-based PCBs.
- Brittle & Fragile – One of the biggest disadvantages of ceramic boards is that of every other ceramic ware that one comes across in daily life, which is that they break.
Despite their ability to be deployed in harsh environments and generally high capacity to withstand heat and other factors, they are rather vulnerable to impact. As a result, they tend to be brittle when they are not handled properly.
Therefore, careful handling is required when it comes to ceramic PCBs, not just during the manufacturing phase but rather all the way until the end of their life.
- Cost Factor – It is generally expensive to manufacture ceramic PCBs in comparison to others, due to the nature of the design and the material’s composition.
It is partly for this reason that the use of ceramic PCBs is largely found in aerospace and high-tech industries.
- Availability – Although ceramic boards can be used for applications other than aerospace and high-technology, it is rarely used in other industries, for the simple issue of availability.
Not many industries supply ceramic PCBs for everyday applications, due to manufacturing, cost factor and a few other reasons, making it difficult to find reliable suppliers. It is for this reason that manufacturers often go for other varieties of PCBs, even though ceramics may prove to be a better choice.
Last but not the least, is the subject of applications, and the many places where ceramic PCBs have been utilized.
Currently, ceramic PCBs have found themselves to be of use in a variety of industries, although their current use is largely concentrated in high tech and aerospace applications. This aspect in turn, is due to their ability to withstand harsh environmental factors such as cosmic rays, making them an ideal choice for this purpose.
Other applications of ceramic PCBs also exist at the same time, although there is a dearth of it being widespread. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the major hurdles is the subject of finding suitable suppliers of the same in regular markets, which happen to be few and scarce.
To sum up, the above-mentioned points highlight some of the main aspects of ceramic PCBs.
There are indeed many more, in addition, to be above, all of which make them the special components that they are.