PCBs are an essential part of any electronic circuit. Without PCBs, you can’t have electronics. PCBs are also essential to the environment and your health. They are made of toxic and non-biodegradable material, and replacing them with safer alternatives is a challenge.
But wait, we have an alternative. That is ceramic PCB.
Ceramic PCBs are a great alternative to traditional PCBs. They are flexible, lightweight, and biodegradable. And to make things juicer, these are not the only juicy features of the ceramic PCBs. Read on as we explore more details about ceramic PCBs.
What is a ceramic PCB?
A ceramic PCB is an electronic circuit that uses a ceramic substrate as its base. The passive electronic components are then soldered onto the substrate. Ceramic substrates are made of zirconium dioxide, an inorganic compound that is very hard and resistant to corrosion. However, the conductivity of zirconium dioxide is very low. It has to be doped with other elements like silicon and phosphorus to increase its conductivity.
The doping process increases the conductivity of the substrate and makes it easier for the electrons to flow through it. This means that you can use it as your PCB base material, and you can then solder your components.
In addition, you don’t have to worry about soldering damaging your circuit board anymore. You just have to worry about how you’re going to get your hands on one.
Why use ceramic material?
As we have defined, ceramic is the primary material used for these PCBs. There are various properties of ceramic material that make it ideal for making printed circuit boards. These properties include;
– High heat resistance: Ceramic substrate has a high melting point. This makes it ideal for high-temperature applications. Ceramic material is commonly used in ovens and kilns.
– It has a low thermal expansion coefficient: Ceramic generally has a low thermal expansion coefficient. This means that the substrate wont expand when exposed to high temperatures.
– High chemical resistance: Ceramic material is very resistant to acid, alkali, and corrosion. This makes them ideal for applications where these chemicals are present, such as in chemical industries or laboratories.
– It’s electrically insulating: Ceramic is an electrical insulator. This makes it ideal for use as the base of PCBs where you don’t want the circuit board to interfere with the current flow in your circuit.
– It has good mechanical strength: Ceramic material has a very high compressive strength, making it ideal for use in high-stress environments such as those found in aircraft or satellites.
As you can see, ceramic materials are great for a wide range of applications.
Ceramic material is also widely used in the production of electronic components such as capacitors and transistors.
Types of Ceramic PCB
Ceramic PCBs come in three main variants;
-High-temperature ceramic PCB
-Low-temperature ceramic PCB
-Thick film ceramic PCB
Let’s expound on these types of ceramic printed circuit boards.
High-temperature ceramic PCB
The name alone gives hints of the type of this PCB. They are designed to operate in high-temperature environments. These PCBs are made from a material called alumina, which is a type of ceramic compound.
This material has an extremely high melting point . It’s important to note that the maximum operating temperature for this type of PCB is usually lower than its melting point because the heat produced by the components may cause thermal expansion and warp the board.
As you can see, these high-temperature ceramic PCBs are ideal for use in high-temperature applications such as kilns, furnaces, and ovens, where their unique properties of heat resistance and electrical insulation make them very effective.
High-temperature ceramic PCBs have many other uses besides those mentioned above. They are also used in military equipment, satellites, spacecraft, and even space shuttles for their ability to withstand extreme temperatures.
Low-temperature ceramic PCB
Low-temperature ceramic PCBs are similar to high-temperature ones in that they have high thermal conductivity, high insulation resistance, and high mechanical strength. They are also made from alumina, but the materials used to make them are different. Low-temperature ceramic PCBs use a mullite material, which is less expensive than alumina.
They are designed to operate in low-temperature environments, such as refrigerators and freezers. These PCBs have a melting point of 1,200°C which is much lower than that of their high-temperature counterparts.
This type of PCB is ideal for use in low-temperature applications where their unique properties of heat resistance and electrical insulation make them very effective.
Thick film ceramic film
These ceramic PCBs are relatively thicker than the other two types. Their thickness may be over 10 microns but is not more than 14 microns. They are used in high-temperature applications where they are exposed to temperatures of up to 1000°C.
The main advantage of the thick ceramic film is that they shield the copper from oxidation. This prevents the copper from turning into a brittle compound which may cause short circuits.
The thickness also makes these PCBs capable of accommodating more electronic components.
So, of the three, which type of ceramic PCB should I choose? Well, it depends on the project. If you are looking for a PCB that can withstand high temperatures, then a high-temperature ceramic PCB is your best choice. A thick film ceramic PCB may also work perfectly for such applications.
Do you intend to use your electronic component in low-temperature applications? You already know the type of PCB film to use.
If not sure, you are free to consult PCB manufacturers for advice or even clarification on the type of PCB to use.
Properties and advantages of ceramic PCB
Here are the ceramic PCBs and how you stand to benefit from them;
Good thermal conductivity
Ceramic PCBs have good thermal conductivity. This is why they are often used in high-power electronic components or in other projects requiring high heat dissipation.
With its capability to withstand high temperatures and high power dissipation, a ceramic PCB can be a perfect choice for your project.
The thermal conductivity of ceramic PCBs also makes them highly reliable for use in low-temperature applications. If you have an application or project that requires a low temperature and yet you need a circuit board, then a ceramic PCB is your best option.
You can also use them in hot environments as the temperature does not affect them.
Excellent chemical erosion resistance
Ceramic PCBs are highly resistant to corrosion and erosion due to chemicals, gasses, and water in the electric circuit. This makes them highly reliable when exposed to such conditions.
The insulating properties of these circuits boards make them highly resistant to corrosion or erosion, and harsh chemicals do not easily damage them.
If you plan to use a circuit board in an environment where it will be exposed to harsh chemicals, high temperatures, or water, then a ceramic PCB is your best option.
Ceramic PCBs can also be used in high-voltage environments as they are highly resistant to electric shock.
The insulating properties make them highly reliable for use in high voltage environments.
High mechanical strength
Ceramic PCBs have high mechanical strength and can withstand extreme vibrations and mechanical stress without any damage or deformation. This feature makes them suitable for products where vibration is a factor.
Highly resistant to corrosion
Due to their low moisture absorption rate, they are not easily damaged by corrosion or erosion, even when used in corrosive environments. This makes ceramic PCBs highly reliable for use in applications that require circuit boards with excellent resistance to corrosion and erosion.
Compatible with many electronic components
Ceramic PCBs are compatible with many electronic components, including sensitive logic chips and microcontrollers. The CTE compatibility is an important factor as it means you can easily use the PCB in different applications without any technical difficulties.
Lightweight and easy to handle
Ceramic PCBs are lightweight and easy to handle because they have a low mass density. This makes them ideal for use in applications where weight is a factor. So, if your main concern is the size or weight of the PCB, the ceramic factor will be of a great deal as it can be designed to a miniature size that can fit into the smallest space.
This feature implies that the ceramic PCBs are highly resistant to static electricity. This is very important when dealing with electronic components sensitive to static electricity. The dielectric stability of the ceramic PCBs makes them ideal for use in applications where there is a high probability of static electricity.
Application of ceramic PCBs
Some real-world applications of the ceramic PCB include;
A memory module is an electronic device that stores data in electronic form. The memory module is a part of the system on which the information is stored. The memory module can be viewed as a digital library where the information is stored. The main function of the memory module is to store and retrieve information.
Ceramic PCBs are ideal for this application because of their numerous desirable features. For instance, ceramic PCBs are easy to construct and can be incorporated into the circuit design with minimum effort. The ceramic PCBs are also resistant to static electricity, making them ideal for use in memory modules with sensitive electronic components.
For transmission and receiver modules
Ceramic PCBs are ideal for use in transmitters and receivers because of their high dielectric strength. The ceramic PCBs are also ideal for use in this application because of their rugged construction, making them resistant to damage.
Most of the instrumentation equipment tends to be sensitive. And this is where the importance of ceramic PCB comes in. Electronic instrumentation includes products such as oscilloscopes, voltmeters, and power meters. The ceramic PCBs are ideal for such products because they come with a broad array of desirable features.
Ceramic PCBs are also good for use in telecommunication because of their high toughness and resistance to corrosion. For telecommunication, the ceramic PCBs need to be made of a material that is resistant to UV radiation which is why ceramics are preferred over other materials such as plastic or fiberglass.
The resistance to UV radiation makes it possible for ceramic PCBs to withstand all kinds of harsh environments, including extreme temperature changes and moisture levels. Therefore, there is no need for special treatment of the ceramic board before it can be used in a telecommunication system.
So, where do you intend to use your ceramic PCB? The listed application areas can give you a hint.
Ceramic PCB technical parameters
Here are the technical parameters that should guide you when it comes to buying ceramic PCBs
-Size: The size of the ceramic PCB should be according to the size of the components that you are going to install on it.
-Material: The thickness and quality of the ceramic material should be according to your requirements.
-Surface treatment: The surface treatment is necessary for corrosion resistance and anti-static properties.
-Polarity: The polarity of the ceramic PCB should be compatible with your PCB circuit.
Isolation layer: If you are installing a sensitive component such as a microcontroller, it is essential to use an isolation layer between the component and the PCB.
Where can I get ceramic PCBs?
You can buy ceramic PCBs from reliable manufacturers and suppliers in China. This is the surest way to get PCBs that have not been compromised in any possible way.
But, how can I get such manufacturers? You may ask.
It is always advisable to use sourcing agents for such tasks. They will link you up to reputable ceramic PCB manufacturers in China.
For instance, we at ICRFQ have many years of experience in sourcing and selling PCBs from various manufacturers. We have worked with such suppliers for many years and have gained the trust of their customers.
We can avail you of a list of reliable suppliers who are ready to supply you with quality ceramic PCBs at competitive prices.
For more information, contact us using our various avenues.
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