Stack Up Challenges for Hybrid Microwave PCBs
A major part of any RF/microwave application is the ability to stay within the specific tolerances of a design so that the required frequencies could be achieved.
One of the most difficult challenges in managing the stack-up of a hybrid design is consistently achieving an overall thickness requirement from panel to panel and even piece to piece in some applications. Since there is more than one material type, there will also be more than one prepreg (adhesive system) type that can be used to laminate the design together.
Laminate Construction Considerations for Hybrid RF PCBs
When proceed a printed circuit board with dissimilar materials it is critically important to have experience in both the physical properties of the laminate and the capabilities of your equipment.
Based upon the CTE values of all of the layers of material (ex FR4, PTFE, and Copper) each material grows at a different rate during elevated thermal exposure (i.e. lamination).
This can cause significant registration issues as one material shrinks while another one expands and it can also cause delamination of the copper-to-substrate interfaces. Therefore, not all materials should be used in hybrid applications as they are not manufacturable regardless of the desired performance.
What is a hybrid PCB?
A hybrid printed circuit board (PCB) multilayer is a PCB that uses dissimilar materials with the intent of optimizing electrical performance and improving system reliability focused towards high-frequency RF applications.
The biggest challenge when manufacturing this type of PCB is managing the different coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) properties of the dissimilar circuit materials both during PCB fabrication and component
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Hybrid PCB: The Ultimate FAQ Guide
If you have any question on hybrid PCB, you will find the answer right here.
This guide covers all information you need about hybrid PCB including features, specifications, assembly process and material type, just to mention a few.
Keep reading to learn more.
- What Is A Hybrid PCB?
- What Are Some Salient Features Of A Hybrid PCB?
- Which Materials Will You Use When Fabricating A Hybrid PCB?
- Why Do You Use Different Materials When Making A Hybrid PCB?
- What Issues Should You Consider When Designing A Hybrid PCB?
- What Are Some Mechanical Features Of A Hybrid PCB?
- What Are The Applications Of A Hybrid PCB?
- What Is The Innovation Behind A Hybrid PCB?
- What Is Stripline And Microstrip In A Hybrid PCB?
- When Should You Use A Hybrid PCB Stackup?
- What Layers Are Available Within An LED Strip PCB?
- What Factors Should You Consider When Designing A Good Quality Hybrid PCB?
- What Are The Electrical Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
- What Components Can You Find On A Hybrid PCB?
- How Will You Test The Quality Of Assembly In Hybrid PCBs?
- What Factors Will Affect The Cost Of A Hybrid PCB?
- What Silkscreen Printing Methods Are Applicable For Hybrid PCBs?
- How Does SMT And Thru-Hole Compare In Hybrid PCBs?
- What Are The Chemical Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
- Should Hybrid PCBs Comply With IPC Standards?
- What Soldermask Colors Can You Use In Hybrid PCBs?
- What Quality Standards Should Hybrid PCBs Conform To?
- What Are The Thermal Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
What Is A Hybrid PCB?
A hybrid PCB is a printed circuit board with multiple unlike materials on each of the layers.
Besides, hybrid PCBs are made to ensure the following on the device where you install them:
- Optimal electrical performance
- Improvement of system reliability
- Focus on high-frequency RF usages
By using suitable substrate combinations, the hybrid printed circuit board achieves more improvement in its reliability.
The different material substrates will enhance the electrical performance of the hybrid printed circuit board since they have different:
- Dielectric constant
- Thermal expansion coefficient
- Radio frequency
Hybrid PCBs Have Different Material Substrate
What Are Some Salient Features Of A Hybrid PCB?
A hybrid PCB has the following features:
- They will combine high electronic digital and RF configurations within a single printed circuit board
- It will decrease the overall package size of the electronics
- Hybrid PCBs lower or eliminate the use of wiring harnesses and cables
- They offer an extra thermal path
- Besides, they also provide suitable electrical performance and integrated EMI shielding
- Enhanced reliability of the system
- The price of a hybrid PCB is lower than the price of two or more standard printed circuit boards and their related hardware
- The use of FR4 will enhance the rigidity and will simplify the assembly of the parts within the printed circuit board
Hybrid PCB Built From FR4
Which Materials Will You Use When Fabricating A Hybrid PCB?
The main PCB materials that you will use when machining hybrid PCBs are FR-4 and PTFE.
Besides, the different layers within a hybrid PCB can have many laminates within a similar material family.
For instance, you can use similar material as PTFE laminate that is filled with ceramics.
Also, the designer needs to change some of the formulas of these materials.
This is to make varying dielectric constants and dissipation factors.
The reason for performing these material changes is to make the hybrid PCB useful in specific applications.
Besides, the variations of dissimilar materials that you will use when fabricating hybrid PCBs depend on the following factors:
- Type of applications
- Power requirements
- Environmental factors
- Other design factors
Some of the common materials that you will use when making a hybrid PCB include the following:
This is a reinforced glass epoxy material that is popularly used when making printed circuit boards.
FR-4 material is also referred to as Flame Retardant 4 and upholds suitable standards within the printed circuit board industry.
The main reason FR-4 is common with PCB industries is that it is affordable.
Also, FR-4 has excellent electrical insulation and high dielectric strength.
Besides, FR-4 material can withstand environments with moisture and varying temperature levels.
FR-4 material has suitable features and makes it useful in several types of applications.
Besides, FR-4 material is a suitable option besides having its limitations.
FR-4 material has properties that make them unsuitable for higher frequency or digital circuit applications developed.
These recent developments include 5G or fifth-generation wireless communication.
The FR-4 material may experience a high dielectric loss when you expose them to microwave frequencies.
A 6 Layer FR4 Hybrid PCB
Another name for this material is Teflon.
This is a plastic material that is filled with ceramic that you will use when making high-frequency printed circuit boards.
Also, they are a replacement for FR-4 laminate when making high-speed printed circuit boards.
They have a dielectric constant ratio that does not surpass 3.5.
The dielectric constant of PTFE material makes it useful in applications that need an improvement of impedance control and minimal signal loss.
PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene material is also useful in applications that experience higher temperature levels.
This is because PTFE will provide high mechanical stability.
Besides, PTFE has its limitations as it is a costly alternative to FR-4.
Although it possesses temperature stability, it may experience a dielectric loss at high-temperature levels.
This will cause it to experience a change in dimension since it is a soft material in nature.
A PTFE Or Teflon Hybrid PCB
This is another material that you can use when fabricating a hybrid printed circuit board.
Polyimide material has high chemical resistance properties enabling them to withstand some of the chemicals.
Besides the high chemical resistance, polyimide has suitable electrical characteristics making them usable in several applications.
Polyimide is a flexible and lightweight material that is suitable for portable or mobile applications.
However, when you compare polyimide to FR-4 and PTFE, most PCB industries do not use it.
This is because polyimide is the most expensive of all.
Polyimide Hybrid PCB
Why Do You Use Different Materials When Making A Hybrid PCB?
Hybrid printed circuit boards are unique since it uses dissimilar materials during the PCB fabrication process.
There are various reasons why hybrid PCBs use dissimilar materials.
Some of the reasons for using different materials to make these multilayer hybrid printed circuit boards include:
- To reduce the poor structural trait of some laminates
- To lower unsuitable mechanical characteristics of some laminate materials
When you combine these laminates, they will lower their unsuitable traits since they complement one another.
They will reduce the negative characteristics of some of the materials and increase the strength of other materials.
For example, PTFE material has excellent electrical characteristics.
However, their structural integrity will deteriorate when you use them in certain temperature environments.
Besides, when you use different materials to fabricate hybrid printed circuit boards, you lower the fabrication cost.
This makes it a cost-effective option.
PTFE and FR-4 are the two materials that you will combine when fabricating hybrid printed circuit boards.
This is because PTFE laminate materials are suitable for high-speed applications and FR-4 laminate materials are advantageous for low-speed usages.
Furthermore, you can use FR-4 laminate material to counteract issues with balancing the thickness of the layers within the laminate material.
What Issues Should You Consider When Designing A Hybrid PCB?
There Are Many Factors To Look Into When Designing A Hybrid PCB
Various factors are worth considering when fabricating a hybrid printed circuit board as it has different materials.
Besides, it is vital to understand that each of the materials you are using has varying CTE values.
The CTE value will represent the degree of dimensional alteration each of the materials will experience when you expose them to varying temperature levels.
The effect of this is that the hybrid printed circuit board may experience registration issues.
This will happen when one of the laminate materials contracts while the other material expands.
For this reason, it is paramount to understand that some materials are not suitable for use when fabricating hybrid printed circuit boards.
The separation of layers is an important issue that you should solve when making multilayer hybrid printed circuit boards.
Delamination is another issue that may occur within the hybrid PCBs as it may cause the laminate layers to peel off.
To combat delamination issues within hybrid printed circuit boards, you need to know the delamination time for these materials.
Another issue that you may experience when fabricating a hybrid printed circuit board is the stack-up process.
For this reason, the fabricators need to ensure they achieve the suitable thickness for the hybrid printed circuit boards.
This entails suitable thickness for all pieces and panels to achieve the desired thickness while maintaining the appropriate frequencies.
Besides, the adhesive you will use between the layers in a hybrid printed circuit board varies depending on the material type you are utilizing.
When you provide the appropriate amount of insulation, the hybrid printed circuit board will achieve suitable thickness levels.
Few industries have the capacity and skill to fabricate hybrid printed circuit boards.
The hybrid PCB fabricators may operate with various materials and they need to understand issues that may occur when etching these multilayer PCBs.
Ensure you discuss your needs with the fabricators as this will assist them to make hybrid printed circuit boards that meet your needs.
The fabricators can offer suggestions on the type of laminate material you can use for your hybrid PCBs.
What Are Some Mechanical Features Of A Hybrid PCB?
Some of the PCB designers may want unique mechanical features that are cumbersome to include when fabricating hybrid printed circuit boards.
Some of these features include the following:
Odd Shape PCB Outline
A majority of the time, the laminate material should fit within the available space.
However, there are situations when the hybrid printed circuit board has varying shapes with twists and turns.
Routing outlines within a hybrid printed circuit board is a sensitive process.
Also, you need to reduce the feeds and speeds so that the edges of the board remain crisp.
Besides, it is vital to check the drill bits as the material is complex on the drill bits.
Furthermore, you need to be aware that the majority of the RF materials will fray when you fail to cut them accurately.
Consistency Of Plated Thru-holes
It is paramount for the fabricator to understand that the preparation process for holes of FR-4 is different before plating.
Besides, it is important to know how these processes will impact the quality of the holes of the walls.
For instance, when dealing with PTFE, you should apply a plasma etch methodology to desmear such holes.
However, this is not a suitable method when dealing with FR-4 since it may cause the surface to be uneven.
Additionally, it will cause the copper within the holes to be uneven.
Controlled Depth In The Routing Process
There are some mechanical characteristics of hybrid printed circuit boards that come from using many lamination cycles.
Other mechanical traits come from using controlled depth during the routing process.
However, these techniques come with their limitations, hence, add to the overall cost and complexity when designing the hybrid PCBs.
The manufacturer needs to route the pattern within the production and prepreg patterns while using many lamination cycles to form these cavities.
What Are The Applications Of A Hybrid PCB?
A hybrid printed circuit board finds its application in several areas.
Besides, you will use a hybrid PCB when you need to fit mechanical parts in large technical demands.
The application of hybrid PCBs from soothing and security electronics to mobile and mechanism power fragments.
In extreme ecological disorder beneath the bonnet, only the hybrid printed circuit boards can fit within such lofty standards.
One advantage of this circuit is that some elements which you cannot add to standard monolithic IC can be added within the hybrid PCB.
A hybrid PCB is available in several devices and the varying circuit classes are also present in numerous electrical gears.
All the electronic gadgets and devices we use daily contain some aspect of hybrid printed circuit boards.
Some electrical appliances like mobile phones, television sets, refrigerators, laptops, and computers contain hybrid printed circuit boards.
Besides, you cannot produce these electronics and electronic devices without installing hybrid PCBs within them, whether large or small in dimension.
The electronic circuit you use when making these devices can be complex or simple.
Besides, you will make these electrical circuits by interlocking many electrical components to one another.
Also, you will achieve this attachment by using joining or conducting wires and cables that will discharge mechanical current.
This happens through the several components within the hybrid PCB.
What Is The Innovation Behind A Hybrid PCB?
The primary purpose behind the invention of hybrid printed circuit boards is to assist in developing electronic devices.
This is because hybrid PCBs are small electronic circuits and apply more element patterns.
Hybrid printed circuit boards have individual parts and passive substances.
Besides, hybrid PCBs have been in existence in the past and this is evident in quantum computers and recent appliances.
Hybrid Printed Circuit Boards Purpose Is To Assist In Developing Electronic Devices
What Is Stripline And Microstrip In A Hybrid PCB?
Stripline and microstrip lines are techniques you will use when routing high-speed printed circuit board transmission lines on the board design.
Stripline is a hybrid PCB line trace transmission that is surrounded by dielectric materials.
These dielectric materials suspend between double layers of ground planes within the hybrid PCB.
Microstrip line routing is transmission line traces that are routed on the PCB external layer.
This makes the microstrip line separate from ground planes through dielectric materials.
Besides, microstrip routing has better signal traits than stripline routing since the transmission line is on the PCB surface layer.
Also, you will spend less on microstrip line routing.
Image Showing The Difference Between Microstrip And Strip line In A Hybrid PCB
When Should You Use A Hybrid PCB Stackup?
First, you need to understand the materials and layers you need when planning and choosing materials for a hybrid PCB stack-up.
For instance, if you know you require low-loss laminate and layer count, you need to consider if you should use hybrid PCB stackups.
For instance, you need to consider the following:
Exclusively using PTFE or a low dielectric constant is costly.
The cost difference for prototypes is less, but the total cost difference is high when making large volumes.
RF Interconnect Count
It makes no sense to build a whole hybrid PCB stack up when you can fit the RF or high-speed signals within one layer.
For instance, you can consider enlarging the board to reduce the number of via.
Some RF systems using ISM bands or 6 GHz and 7 GHz can operate on FR-4 grade laminates when you have short interconnects.
What Layers Are Available Within An LED Strip PCB?
These include the following:
This first layer is mainly from fiberglass since it offers more strength hence assists in resisting breakage.
Solder Mask Layer
This is a polymer layer that will protect the copper from short-circuiting when it contacts the environment.
This layer can be a copper foil or complete copper coating depending on the type of printed circuit board.
The copper layer will relay electrical signals to and from the printed circuit board.
This layer is responsible for showing component numbers, symbols, logos, test points, component references, etc.
What Factors Should You Consider When Designing A Good Quality Hybrid PCB?
These include the following:
- Material board
This entails understanding the material you will use to fabricate the hybrid PCB.
- Via type
These elements assist in establishing a connection between various components.
Besides, they come in various forms such as micro vias, blind vias, or buried vias.
Most hybrid PCBs have minimized vias and also understand their carrying capabilities.
- Copper traces
Here, you need to understand their limitations and characteristics during the design process.
- PCB stack-up
This refers to the number of layers the hybrid PCB contains and allows the designers to understand the impedance of every layer.
Knowing the number of layers helps fabricators achieve suitable reliability, yields, and lower production costs.
- Design rules
This entails considering part placement, cross-talk budget, allocation layers, etc.
- Part selection
Selecting the correct components will ensure you design quality hybrid PCBs.
- The integrity of power and signal
This entails considering the fall and rise duration of signals, track lengths, impedance traits, and drive strength.
Perform signal integrity simulations before and after layout to ensure quality performance.
Material Board And Via Type Are Some Factors You Consider When Designing Quality Hybrid PCB
What Are The Electrical Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
These include the following:
This property will affect the impedance and signal integrity of a hybrid PCB material.
Ensure the dielectric constant remains constant on a wide range of frequencies in high-speed usages.
This is also referred to as a relative dielectric constant.
This is how you will measure the signal or the power loss of a hybrid PCB material.
The dissipation factor is for analog signals and not digital signals.
Also, when the frequencies surpass 1 GHz, the dissipation factor will increase when the frequency increases.
This is how you will measure the surface resistance of a dielectric material to electricity flow.
The surface resistivity will change with the presence of moisture and temperature.
Also, ensure you have a high surface resistivity to ensure suitable signal integrity.
This is the capability of the hybrid PCB to withstand electrical breakdown within the z-direction.
This is how you will measure the resistance of the dielectric volume.
Besides, it is preferable to have a high volume resistivity to maintain suitable isolation between the layers.
What Components Can You Find On A Hybrid PCB?
There are several components in a hybrid PCB, and they include the following:
These parts will resist the flow of electric current by dissipating the electric power as heat energy.
These parts will temporarily hold an electric charge and release it when another part of the hybrid PCB needs more power.
These parts store energy in form of magnetic fields that will generate when an electric current flows through them.
This is a variation of the variable resistor and is available in linear and rotary versions.
This part will relay electrical energy from a single circuit to another, by decreasing or increasing the voltage.
These parts enable current to flow only in one direction, that is, from the anode to the cathode.
Also, diodes will produce light when current flows through them.
These parts are electronic switches and amplifiers as they are the building blocks of hybrid PCBs.
- Silicon-controlled rectifier
These parts are similar to two transistors operating together.
They contain three leads and four layers of silicon and not three and will operate as switches and not amplifiers.
- Integrated circuits
These are parts that are small in size to fit wafers of the semiconductor material.
- Crystal oscillators
This component will provide a clock in several circuits that need accurate and stable timing systems.
- Relays and switches
The switch is a power button that controls the flow of current within the hybrid PCB, depending on if it is open or closed.
They can take the form of sliders, toggles, rotary, levers, etc.
These components will detect any environmental change then produce electrical signals that correspond to the change.
The signals go to other electronic parts within the hybrid PCB.
How Will You Test The Quality Of Assembly In Hybrid PCBs?
- In-circuit testing
- Visual inspection
What Factors Will Affect The Cost Of A Hybrid PCB?
These include the following:
The material you use to fabricate the hybrid PCB will affect its cost.
For instance, polyimide costs more than FR-4.
A large hybrid PCB costs more than tiny hybrid PCBs.
Number Of Layers
The higher the number of layers, the higher the cost.
Some finishes you may apply will cost more as they offer a longer shelf life to your hybrid PCB.
For instance, ENIG surface finish costs more than HASL.
Size Of Holes
If you need more holes on the hybrid PCB, you will spend more since it takes more time.
Also, this is tasking due to the thickness and small size of the PCB.
Space And Trace
Adding solder masks to traces that may burn will increase the cost of producing hybrid PCBs.
Thickness Of PCB
It will cost more when you fabricate thick hybrid PCBs since the materials cost more to purchase and laminate.
When you need to incorporate unique features and parts within the hybrid PCB, you will end up spending more.
PCB Size And Customization Are Some Factors That Affect Cost Of PCB
What Silkscreen Printing Methods Are Applicable For Hybrid PCBs?
These methods include the following:
- Manual screen printing
- Liquid photo imaging [LPI]
- Direct legend printing [DLP]
How Does SMT And Thru-Hole Compare In Hybrid PCBs?
Here is how these two compare:
Surface-mount Technology [SMT]
This is a method where you will place the components of the PCB directly on the surface of the board.
In this method, you will mount the components to the PCB using lead components that are drilled into the board.
What Are The Chemical Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
This will give the moisture amount that the PCB will absorb when you submerge it.
This is the duration the material will burn under combustion, and needs to be below 10 seconds for each specimen.
Methylene Chloride Resistance
This offers the absorption percentage of methylene chloride that you use to produce the PCBs.
Should Hybrid PCBs Comply With IPC Standards?
Yes, some of the OPC standards it should comply with include the following:
- IPC 7711/7721C
What Soldermask Colors Can You Use In Hybrid PCBs?
There are several solder mask colors that you can use within these boards.
Some of the color alternatives include the following:
There Are A Variety Of Soldermask Colors To Choose For Your Hybrid PCB
What Quality Standards Should Hybrid PCBs Conform To?
Hybrid PCBs need to conform to a set of international, national, and regional standards.
This confirms that they are reliable and efficient to use in various systems.
Some of these quality standards include the following:
- Underwriters’ Laboratories [UL] certification
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice [cGMP]
- ISO 9001:2008 certification
- CE mark of quality
- Restriction of Hazardous Substances [RoHS]
- IATF16949 standard
What Are The Thermal Properties Of A Hybrid PCB?
These include the following:
This is the temperature at which the hybrid PCB substrate will decompose permanently.
Ensure the decomposition temperature is lower than the temperature of the solder.
Glass Transition Temperature
This is the temperature where a hybrid PCB substrate will change from hard to soft reversibly.
Ensure the glass transition temperature is lower than the temperature of the solder.
This is the rate at which heat will move through a material in a hybrid PCB.
Thermal conductivity is low for insulators and high for conductors.
Coefficient Of Thermal Expansion
This is the rate at which a hybrid PCB will expand when subjected to heat.
The CTE should be as low as can be.
For all your hybrid PCBs, contact Venture Electronics now.