Most people hear about PCBs but don’t know the different types available. One common and reliable option you can’t ignore is the ceramic PCB.
Ceramic PCBs were developed to cover the shortcomings of traditional PCBs.
Surprisingly, they’re designed with high thermal conductivity and low expansion coefficient features. Therefore, they offer high reliability, improved density, and increased precision.
Also, these PCBs are less complex and perform better than traditional options.
But do you have all the information regarding ceramic PCBs? If not, read on.
Table of Contents
- What is ceramic PCB?
- Why Use Ceramic PCB Over Other PCBs?
- The types of ceramic PCBs
- Ceramic PCB Application
- The advantages of ceramic PCB
- How to manufacture ceramic PCB?
- Ceramic PCB Flaws
- Considerations While Buying Ceramic PCBs
What is ceramic PCB?
(Ceramic capacitor PCB)
To begin with, we know a PCB is a board with conductive pathways connecting different components. Therefore a ceramic PCB is just a PCB whose conductive pathways are ceramic baseboards. Surprisingly, it improves the performance quality of your PCB.
Generally, ceramic PCBs are designed with minimal expansion coefficient and high thermal conductivity.
We use ceramic materials to develop these PCBs, including boron nitride, silicon carbide, aluminum nitride, beryllium oxide, and alumina.
Surprisingly, the materials have the same physical and chemical properties.
Why Use Ceramic PCB Over Other PCBs?
(Someone assembling a circuit board)
We tested and found ceramic PCBs to stand out for their high thermal conductivity, working temperature, and excellent insulation. Therefore, they’ll still function effectively even in high-temperature conditions.
We understand that ceramic PCB reduces the design and fabrication complexity. Therefore, it costs less to manufacture and produce a ceramic PCB.
Generally, when you use ceramic PCBs, you’ll enjoy high stability, inertia, and conductivity.
Moreover, they come with compatible CTE, thus providing a lasting solution for thermal cycle failure.
The types of ceramic PCBs
We have three categories of ceramic PCBs. Check them out below:
High-Temperature Co-fired PCB
Without question, this is the most popular ceramic PCB. Surprisingly, we develop it for high-temperature applications. The PCB consists of raw ceramics with solvent, plasticizer, mixing adhesive, aluminum oxide, and lubricant.
We bake these PCBs under 1600-1700 degrees Celsius for at least 48 hours to develop them. However, this should happen after lamination. Finally, the PCBs find application in carrier circuits and small-scale boards.
Low Temperature Co-fired PCB
You get these PCBs by mixing crystal glass with an adhesive on sheet metal having gold paste. Next, you cut it into an oxidizing gas oven at 900°C.
Notice that this temperature is lower than the 1600°C to 1700°C for high-temperature co-fired printed circuit boards.
Thick Film Ceramic PCB
Here, you repeatedly and alternatively print dielectric and thick film gold paste on a ceramic base. Afterward, you implement baking at temperatures below 1000°C.
Surprisingly, this fabrication technology has a high assembly base number and is thus fit for large-scale PCB manufacturing. However, the application of the technology is limited thanks to the high gold prices.
Ceramic PCB Application
Ceramic PCBs find application in multiple fields thanks to having reliable mechanical and thermal advantages. Check out the application areas below:
Ceramic PCBs find use in all RAM thanks to extreme usage endurance. Therefore, you’ll find them in DDR SDRAM and other memory-related parts.
Multilayer Interconnect Board
If you use ceramic PCBs, you’ll use more components than traditional PCBs. Surprisingly, they have a high capacity for containing weight. Therefore, we use them as multilayer interconnect boards.
Receiving and Transmission Modules
The first time receiving and transmitting modules existed, they had ceramic PCBs. Generally, we know that radars should be very accurate, thus the need for high thermal conductivity and compatible CTE. This makes ceramic PCBs the best candidate.
Nowadays, low-temperature ceramic PCBs are highly used to design high-quality analog and digital ones.
Consequently, we get lightweight devices like personal computers.
Surprisingly, low-temperature and high-temperature ceramic PCBs find everyday use in photovoltaic panels.
Moreover, we use multilayer ceramic PCBs to guarantee the panel’s longevity and high thermal conductivity.
Electric Power Transmitter
Wireless chargers and transmitters have become popular thanks to ceramic PCBs.
Interestingly, these PCBs have excellent thermal and electromagnetic properties that make it possible to transmit electrical energy.
We all know how LEDs generate a lot of heat. Therefore, you need a material that withstands such a high heat amount. Surprisingly, ceramic PCBs have high thermal efficiency and thus won’t suffer from too much heat.
We require modern semiconductor chips to fit into tighter spaces. Therefore, they’re designed with ceramic PCBs since traditional ones fail in this area.
The advantages of ceramic PCB
There are many benefits of using ceramic PCBs and including the following:
- The PCBs have a high thermal conductivity
- They aren’t affected by chemical erosion
- You can use them to achieve high-density tracing
- The PCBs are durable
- They’re adaptable and supports application in various industrial positions
- They have CTA component compatibility
How to manufacture ceramic PCB?
(Engineer manufacturing PCBs)
During fabrication, you can use gold or silver conductive pastes to place trace connections in every layer. Also, after stacking and printing the layers, you must bake your stack below 1000 °C.
Generally, this value matches the silver and gold paste’s sintering temperature, thus allowing it into the PCB.
Ceramic PCB Flaws
Although ceramic PCBs have several benefits, they also have a few drawbacks. Check them out below:
Generally, ceramic PCBs come at a higher cost than traditional PCBs. Surprisingly, it’s almost impossible to find ceramic PCBs in household electronics. In most cases, we use them in complex machinery and aerospace.
However, they have a very low after cost than traditional PCBs. Unlike the latter, which requires constant repairs, ceramic PCBs are durable, thus experiencing limited repairs.
We are sorry to disappoint you that ceramic PCB materials are small and fragile. Therefore, handling them becomes complex. And if anything goes wrong, it takes a lot of effort to fix.
If you walk into any electronic shop, you’ll likely find traditional PCBs, not ceramic ones. These PCBs are scarce and unavailable and thus more expensive. However, you can find reliable online stores that sell them but still expensively.
Considerations While Buying Ceramic PCBs
To purchase a quality ceramic PCB, consider these factors:
Ceramic PCBs are designed with Beryllium oxide, Aluminum oxide, and Aluminum Nitride. Out of these three, Beryllium oxide and Aluminum nitride creates high-quality circuits. However, Aluminum oxide offers the cheapest option.
If you settle on purchasing thin-film PCBs, we recommend gold-plated instead of silver ones. Generally, gold offers better performance, although at the expense of higher prices. With silver, your PCB might experience silver corrosion or damage.
Since thin-plate ceramic PCBs fit in compact spaces easily, we recommend employing them in complex circuits and for professional usage. Additionally, you can buy direct copper bonded options to etch your PCB into different layouts.
Forget about using ceramic PCBs in simple circuits and devices. Doing so will only bring losses to your business. We recommend Aluminum oxide if you must use ceramic PCBs in LED applications.
Surprisingly, we only recommend using ceramic PCBs in delicate devices that require extra functionality and durability.
What’s the cost of ceramic PCBs?
Generally, ceramic PCBs’ price varies between the brand and the seller. Moreover, these PCBs are more expensive than the traditional options.
What’s the durability of a ceramic PCB?
We can guarantee that your ceramic PCB will serve you for a long. Surprisingly, the exact period could go up to 70 years. Moreover, you can increase durability by implementing proper care and maintenance.
Can you repair a damaged ceramic PCB?
Yes! Nothing stops you from repairing a damaged ceramic PCB. However, the repair cost is so high that buying a new one would make more economic sense.
You can’t avoid ceramic PCB conversions if you’re using or involving yourself with electronics. As we mentioned, ceramic PCBs are designed to improve on the traditional PCB shortcomings.
We like that they’re less complex and offer superior performance.
Moreover, ceramic PCBs are designed to offer more durability. However, they’re more expensive than the traditional options.