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Rigid PCB

Table of Contents

What is Rigid Printed Circuit Board (PCB)?

As the name suggests, a rigid PCB is a hard type that cannot be bent or changed once it has been created. The substrate composition makes it inflexible and hard to modify, with the most solid functionality among other PCB types. There are multiple layers to a Rigid PCB board, such as
● Substrate layer
● Copper layer
● Solder mask layer
● Silkscreen layer
All the layers mentioned above are joined together through heat and adhesive. Many of the common PCBs only have one type but rigid circuit boards have three types that are single-sided, double-sided, and multilayered. This portrays the versatility of rigid PCBs and how they are used in many consumer products nowadays. 

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Figure 1: Rigid PCB

Let’s look at how the multiple layers of a rigid PCB make it the most solid PCB out there.

Design and Manufacturing Process

The Layer Composition of a Rigid PCB

The multiple layers of a rigid PCB are what give it higher strength and durability in comparison to other circuit boards. There are reasons why each layer adds up to the strength of the rigid board and makes it inflexible. The layers are stated in order, starting from the bottom and going to the top.

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Figure 2: Rigid PCB Layers

Substrate Layer:
A substrate layer lies at the bottom of a rigid PCB board and is commonly made of FR4 fiberglass. FR4 is a cheaper but more durable alternative to phenolics and epoxies. Many manufacturers prefer the FR4 material because of its cost efficiency and higher durability. Regardless of its monetary cost, the material is more solid than others in the market and adds to the stiffness of a rigid PCB.
Copper Layer:
The second layer is known as the copper layer. The copper layer is among the materials that allow the transmission of data through several paths. It is pasted onto the board using adhesive and secured with heat to make sure it stays in place. Many of the manufacturers use a double layer of copper on both sides of the rigid board. However, the cheaper and less durable boards used in electronics have a single layer of copper.
Solder Mask Layer:
The solder mask layer serves more as a protective layer for the copper layer. Electricity and data flow are facilitated through the Copper layer, which is why it is more prone to oxidation and corrosion. The solder mask layer protects it from any conduction materials that may cause damage to the copper layer. Various materials can be used to create a solder mask layer for protection, such as
● Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold,
● Hot Air Solder Leveling,
● Lead-Free HASL,
● Immersion tin,
● Immersion silver,
● Hard gold fingers,
● Wire-bondable electrolytic gold,
● Electroless nickel electroless palladium immersion gold.
Silkscreen Layer
The top layer of a rigid PCB board is known as the silkscreen layer. This serves as a character board that helps users recognize the rigid board in a better light. You will find the characters mostly in white; however, they can exist in other colors, such as red, yellow, black, or gray.

Differences Among Rigid, Flexible, and Rigid Flex PCBs

You can already tell from the names how each board works. A rigid board is a solid PCB board that maintains its shape once it has been manufactured. It cannot be bent or modified as desired because of its solid composition. Rigid PCBs have multiple types and is composed of multiple layers.
A flexible PCB, on the other hand, is a PCB board that is more flexible. It can be bent and modified. However, it is necessary to fit into certain electronics. A flexible PCB is more expensive to manufacture, which is why manufacturers do not prefer it often. Despite its cost, this board has its benefits. Such as it can be modified however you see fit for a device. They create better connections between electronic components, other circuit boards, and user interfaces. They are lightweight and can absorb more energy than rigid boards. However, you will mostly find a single-layered flexible PCB.
As the name implies, a rigid-flex PCB is a hybrid between rigid and flexible printed circuit boards. These boards are composed of the flexible substrate materials of a flexible board attached to the frame of a rigid board, either externally or internally. This is why it is more flexible than a rigid board but less flexible than a flexible PCB. They have great spatial efficiency as they are designed in 3D spaces. A PCB flex rigid board can be twisted, folded, and bent into any desired shape with a more complex design than the other two types.  

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Figure 3: Typical Rigid Flex PCB

Types of Rigid PCBs

  • Single-Sided PCBs:
    Single-sided rigid PCBs are the blueprint and the simplest of the rigid boards. They consist of a single layer of conduction material with components located only on one side of the board. It makes the board easier and faster to manufacture, making it more cost-effective.
    Doubled-Sided PCB:
    This PCB has two layers of conduction material, which is usually copper. They can be created in multiple designs because the components are usually located on both sides of the board. With the diversity in designs, they can be used in different product designs. Double-sided PCBs can function well in all kinds of temperatures.
    Multilayered PCB:
    As the name suggests, the multilayered PCBs have multiple layers of copper conduction material. These layers are usually in even numbers of 4,6,8, and so on, depending upon the design and the device they are manufactured for. Multilayered PCBs are space-efficient and more dense and solid in composition. The need for interconnection wiring is reduced because of its advanced curing technology.

Application of Rigid PCBs

Rigid Printed circuit boards have several applications, as they are used in a wide range of electronics devices. Some of the most popular ones are as follows:
● Rigid boards are used in daily consumer products such as Computers, laptops, smartphones, and GPS equipment.
● They are used in various equipment in the medical field, such as CAT scans, MRI systems, X-rays, and Heart monitors.
● A rigid Pcb board is found in automobiles
● They are used in many storage devices.
● Rigid PCB boards can withstand both high and low temperatures which makes them perfect for aerospace usage. They are used in equipment like.
1. Temperature sensors,
2. Control tower instrumentation,
3. Aerospace Cockpit.
● They are also used in various military equipment, including atomic and nuclear systems.

Conclusion

Rigid PCBs are a good choice for electronic devices and systems due to their improved functionality, versatility, enhanced reliability, and cost effectiveness. They are the most commonly and extensively used printed circuit boards. As compared to rigid flex printed circuit boards, rigid PCBs are stronger, but flexible PCBs offer more flexibility and durability as well. Due to their rigidity, quality, and cost-effectiveness, they are used in almost all electronic components and systems.
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CONTACT ELE

ELE PCB has got the IS09001:2015, IS013485:2016, ROHS and FCC certifications. We can offer all kinds of services, including PCB manufacturing and PCB assembly, sample orders and batch orders. For PCB assembly, utilizing 7 high-speed SMT PCBA lines from Yamaha and Sony, to meet our customers’ needs. Our extended services include PCB design &PCB Layout, hardware design engineering, firmware &software development, and personalization. ELE company is honored as an excellent supplier from any company all around the world. We deeply believe that our good service and experience will completely meet your needs. Integrality, value and innovation are the forces that drive our success.

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