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Rigid PCBs in Modern Electronics and Advantages

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Different Types of Rigid PCB Provided By GlobalWellPCBA

Simply select your Rigid PCB below to access the guide.

Introduction

It is not wrong to say that rigid PCBs are the backbone of modern consumer appliances. The role of these PCBs is to enhance the functions and performance of electronics to make the user’s life easier. Due to this reason, the role of rigid PCBs in this industry is crucial. 

Advancements in rigid PCBs are making them more efficient to meet future needs. When you are stuck between choosing rigid and flex PCBs, then the only way out is to weigh them down on different factors. People find it hard when it comes to differentiating themselves, and it compromises their projects later. 

Therefore, we are going to see how you can save yourself from this confusion by deeply understanding this post. Rigid PCBs have been performing in the electronics field quite well in recent years. Due to their nature, rigid PCBs cannot only ensure performance but also prove to be effective for long-term efficiency. However, there are still some aspects of rigid PCBs that you should know. Let’s take a look at them in this post! 

Rigid PCB

A rigid printed circuit board is not a bendable one. Unlike flexible PCBs, we cannot change the structure and nature of rigid PCBs. Their substrate is rigid, which serves to make the board stronger so that we can use it in powerful and high-frequency electronics. We need to use a rigid substrate, copper material, a solder mask, and a silkscreen to construct a rigid PCB. You will find rigid PCBs in two categories, including single and double-sided. Based on your requirements, you can choose from different categories of rigid PCBs as well. It does not allow us to modify it, but its functions in electronics are unbeatable. 

Rigid PCB: Characteristics 

  • The copper paths in rigid PCBs are common that we can develop on a single board. The purpose of these copper paths is to join PCB parts with each other for efficient performance. 
  • Also, the substrate of these PCBs is rigid. Due to this substrate, we cannot modify and alter the nature and shape of these boards at all. Therefore, these boards are stronger due to the presence of these substrates.
  • These boards cannot be altered after their production, and this can also be the reason behind their affordability and better accessibility as compared to other boards. 
  • The motherboards of computers rely on rigid PCBs due to their functions and rigid nature as well. 

Manufacturing of Rigid PCB

Rigid PCBs have a few components that we need to gather for their construction. We are going to discuss them so that you can understand them better. 

  • Substrate Layer

The substrate layer is the most important element of rigid PCBs. We use fiberglass FR4 for its development. It is a hard and rigid material, which is why the nature of these boards is also rigid. We can also extract fiberglass FR4 from phenolics and epoxies in case of shortage and unavailability. But these are not as durable as the genuine fiberglass FR4. For temporary usage, going with these materials is not harmful. 

  • Copper Layer

We will develop a copper layer on the upper surface of the substrate. Also, lamination is important to cover the copper foil that we are using. This setup is also exposed to heat and adhesive to develop strong bonds and aim for better protection. The purpose of the copper layer is to act as a bridge to transmit data from one end to the other. There are some applications in electronics that use PCBs with double sides, and each of them is fully laminated with copper. These are expensive electronics as well. 

  • Soldering Mask Layer

There is also a solder mask that helps protect the copper layer and its paths. We use this mask to add to the protection of our PCBs from possible environmental damage. This acts as an insulator so that it can prevent a higher risk of heat damage and electrical faults on all counts. 

  • Silkscreen Layer

The last layer is of silkscreen, and we use it on the upper surface of the PCBs. Different colors of silkscreen are available, including red, gray, yellow, and black. The properties of silkscreen change as we switch between these colors. 

Rigid PCB vs. Flex PCB

It will be better to check some major differences between rigid and flex PCBs so that you won't mistake one for the other. We can differentiate them this way: 

  1. The substrate of rigid boards is stiff, and we cannot bend it. Whereas the flexible PCBs have a bendable substrate, which leads to their flexibility. 
  2. Rigid PCBs are mostly single-sided because of their rigid nature, while flex PCBs can be found with double sides as well. 
  3. Flex PCBs don't gather much space because they are flexible and don't consume much space in the electronics at all. 
  4. Producers have to invest much to develop flexible PCBs because these have highly specific applications, unlike rigid PCBs. 
  5. We can also use flexible PCBs to develop stronger bonds between PCBs and their counterparts and to ensure a smooth flow of information within the setup. 

When to Use Rigid PCBs or Flex Printed Circuit Boards?

  1. Rigid PCBs are not for simple and fragile electronics. These perform better with powerful and high-frequency devices used in the aerospace, defense, and medical sectors. Due to this reason, when you don't want to kill your budget and aim for a better functioning robust PCB, then rigid PCBs are a good option. Flex PCBs are not just expensive, but you have to be picky to use them in certain applications. It means that based on their cost and applications, you can select from rigid and flex PCBs. 
  2. Rigid PCBs are in our routine electronics like TVs, laptops, computers, and some specific toys as well. Therefore, it is crucial to know that we can take advantage of their rigid nature and give an edge to these electronics successfully. 

Flex PCBs are commonly used in technical applications, and there are many use cases outside this range of applications. Therefore, based on your needs, you can choose flex PCBs to improve the performance of these applications easily. 

Main Benefits of Rigid PCBs

First: small size. They have a small size because their components are tightly packed with care. Due to these reasons, electronics manufacturers find rigid PCBs crucial for miniaturization and depend on their small size during development. 

Second: small noise. Other than the small size, these are beneficial in terms of noise. The distance between their components is less; therefore, there are fewer chances of electromagnetic interference and noise. It helps such electronics that we don't want to be too noisy in some specific fields. 

Third: anti-mobility. The components don't leave their fixed positions on the board. Due to this reason, we can rely on these boards for their anti-mobile nature. This is the reason why we use rigid PCBs in vibrational electronics. 

Fourth: easy to repair. It is also a big benefit of rigid PCBs that we can repair them without any hustle. Due to this reason, we can save much time while repairing a rigid PCB as compared to other types available. 

How to Select between a Flex Printed Circuit Board and a Rigid PCB?

It is quite simple. You can make choosing from rigid and complex PCBs quite easier for you. Both rigid and flex PCBs are significant for applications, and we cannot deny this fact. You can use one of them based on your project’s needs and nature. Also, you must consider your budget while choosing from rigid and flex PCBs. You can also see whether you can go for in-house PCB development or you can outsource. Therefore, after evaluating your options based on these factors, you can see whether rigid or flexible PCBs will prove to be useful for you or not. 

When to Utilize a Rigid PCB?

  • Rigid PCBs can better address the customer’s needs. These also work naturally with applications like TVs and laptops. 
  • Also, these are easy to control in terms of their price. It means you don't have to disturb your budget while aiming for mass PCB development. 
  • The best part is the compact nature of these PCBs. It means the tightness of the components in rigid PCBs makes them portable and lightweight, and these don't consume much space in electronics as well. 
  • You can also weigh down the benefits of both rigid and complex PCBs based on their applications. Doing in-depth research on their applications will give you more insights to understand their work. 

Conclusion

Here, we have unveiled different aspects of rigid PCBs for you. Now, you can take your first step towards using rigid PCBs and see how these can improve your projects from one level to the other. Many people who are new to rigid PCBs fail to differentiate them from the rest. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on rigid PCBs so that you won't have to face any trouble while working on them at all.

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