Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
With the rapid development of electronic products, PCB manufacturers have managed to keep up with the massive demand. To put it from a layman’s perspective, it is now common for buyers to argue about the colors of the PCB. And this is where the whole issue of black PCB comes in.
What do you mean by a black PCB? Simply put, this is a PCB with the background color of black. In the past, PCBs were usually green in color but with the advent of new technology and new manufacturing techniques, black PCBs have become more popular than ever.
So, the only difference with other PCBs is the color. Otherwise, the features and functionalities of the PCB will still remain the same.
How is the black color on PCB achieved?
You probably assume that the black color is attained by painting the PCB. This is not true. PCB manufacturers use a black solder mask. This is a thin layer of lacquer or polymer that is applied to the PCB. This layer can be as thin as 0.1mm.
This solder mask is applied during the manufacturing process of the PCB. The other components of the PCB will remain undeterred by the application of the black colors.
How do you choose your PCB color?
The choice of color depends on the product that you are planning to produce. If your product will be used outdoors, it would be best to use a black PCB because of its ability to absorb more heat and prevent moisture from corroding your product’s components and insulators.
However, if you will be producing an indoor electronic product, green or blue would work just fine as well since these colors are not prone to oxidation either.
There are also other factors you need to consider when choosing the color of your PCB. There is a certain amount of psychological influence that colors have on people. For instance, a pink PCB would make your product seem more feminine and thus, increase the appeal to women.
The color of your PCB should also be in harmony with its surroundings. For example, if you will be placing it in an area where it will be exposed to water, then black would not be the best choice because it easily absorbs water and becomes brittle as a result. It is best to opt for an insulating color such as green or blue instead since they do not absorb water.
Black PCBs variants
Even under the ‘black; umbrella, there are different variations of the black PCBs These include;
-Matte black PCB: This is basically a black circuit board that has a matte finish. It ranks among the most commonly used finishing for black PCBs. One of the reasons is it is cheaper than other finishes.
-Anodized black: This is another type of finish that you can use in creating your own custom-printed circuit boards. It ranks among the most popular finishes for black PCBs because it is durable and aesthetically appealing.
-UV-black: This finish has an additional layer that protects it from UV radiation, hence its name. This layer makes it more resistant to corrosion, moisture, and other environmental factors than other types of finishes.
-Urethane black: This finish is more expensive than other types of finishes but it is also the most durable. It can withstand a lot of abuse, including corrosion, and still maintain its aesthetic appeal. In short, it is preferred mainly because of its protection feature.
-Varnish: This finish is also more expensive than other types of finishes. However, it is not as durable as urethane black.
-Polyurethane: This is another type of finish that you can use to give your circuit boards a matte finish. It can be used in conjunction with any other type of finishing for black PCBs.
What are the advantages of black PCBs?
In recent years, we have seen a massive rise in the popularity of the black PCB. Here are some of the top reasons for this.
Minimum light reflection
We don’t expect much when it comes to the relationship between black color and light. You will not experience any reflection of light rays when using black PCB.
So, if you are building a light-sensitive application you should prefer a black PCB. It won’t interfere with the general working of your application.
Black PCBs are versatile. They can be used in the manufacturing of a variety of electronic devices such as phones, cameras, computers, and so on.
You should note that the color of your PCB is not a factor to consider when deciding on the application for which you are building it. Black PCBs can be used for any application.
Protects sensitive components
Black is actually a dark color, which means that it protects most sensitive components from any damage caused by light exposure. Light exposure can be very dangerous for some components, especially transistors and semiconductor chips.
The black color also keeps the temperature down, which is an important consideration during the manufacturing process. It will help in increasing the stability of your circuit boards as well as their performance.
The issue of plagiarism is quite big in the field of PCBs. Manufacturers won’t want their printed circuit boards to be copied. One way of achieving this is by using the black colors on the board. It can be difficult to get an exact copy of the black PCB as compared to other colors of the board.
Probably you know the relationship between black and heat. It is pretty much known that black absorbs heat. Black can be used to absorb heat.
But it does not mean that you should use black for every application for heat dissipation.
Black PCBs are usually used in the areas where there is a high amount of heat dissipation, such as CPU, memory, and graphics chip.
What are the demerits of black PCB
Despite the advantages, black PCBs also have some demerits. First, they cannot be used in heat-sensitive applications. As we have mentioned, one of the characteristics of black is that it absorbs heat.
So, if the circuit is exposed to a lot of heat, black will absorb the heat and cause damage. Second, it’s difficult to see the black PCBs.
The color of the PCB is not visible from a distance, which makes it difficult to understand what the circuit board is. Third, black PCBs are more expensive than other colors.
Why is the green solder mask still a popular PCB?
Despite the good things that we have mentioned about black PCBs, we can’t negate the fact that green PCBs remain to be the most popular types of PCBs. Why is this so?
First, green is the industry standard for PCB. Most PCB manufacturers will produce products that meet the threshold of the industry requirement. This is one of the main reasons why most PCBs in the market are green. A manufacturer will only deviate to a different color because of some special requests from clients.
Another reason behind the popularity of the green solder on PCB is they are easy to work. With a green surface, you can easily spot all the components on the PCB. Also, green is not very bright neither is it so dark. So, lighting won’t be an issue with such PCBs.
So, if you are not interested in the black PCB, don’t hesitate to go for the industry-standard green PCB.
Common misconceptions about Black PCBs
There are some myths that are usually associated with black PCBs. Some of them include:
-Black PCBs are expensive: People tend to assume that black PCBs are more expensive than PCBs of other colors. This is not necessarily true. The price of PCB is rarely determined by its soldered color. Instead, other factors play a big role in determining the final price.
-Black PCBs are used for high-end applications: This is another myth that people tend to believe. Black PCBs are used for all kinds of applications. You can use black PCB in your home theater or in your car.
-Black PCBs are used for wiring: This is also a myth. Black PCBs are used for all kinds of applications. They can be used for soldering wires and other components as well as for general-purpose PCBs.
-Black PCBs are more durable than others: This is also not true at all. The durability of a PCB is dependent upon its construction, components and application itself, not on its color.
-Black PCBs attract heat: It’s true that blackboards absorb heat from the soldering iron, but it’s not enough to make them more durable than other colors of solders (black) or boards (white).
-Black PCBs don’t get dirty: This is false as well. Even though they are heavy, they do get dirty easily because of their low conductivity and the fact that they have one surface only unlike other colors which have multiple surfaces (or multiple layers). However, some pads will be more prone to getting dirty than others because of their size/shape/location on the board or due to their material composition (conductive vs non-conductive).
Now that we have learned all you should know about black PCBs, you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying one for your application. Don’t let the myths and thoughts that other people have about black PCBs derail you.
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