PCBs Can Be Used in High-Vibration Environments

In most electronic devices, a circuit board acts as the main electrical insulator between multiple components. It is built on a dielectric substrate which can vary in material, thickness, and surface structure. This determines the board’s dielectric constant which is important in determining signal propagation speed and signal loss at the edges of conductive pathways. It also determines the maximum current that can be passed through the PCB traces and the track widths needed to carry that current. The substrate can also influence the impedance of a signal, its tracking resistance and dielectric breakdown voltage.

The design process for a circuit board begins with a schematic, which is a symbolic representation of the entire circuit. From the schematic, a layout is created which shows all of the components and how they are connected to each other. The layout is then converted into manufacturing files called Gerbers. These are sent to the circuit board manufacturer who uses them to create a physical circuit board. The board is made up of many copper layers, a dielectric layer and a layer of non-conductive material which is etched with the circuit pattern. The copper is then plated to create the conductive pathways. The circuit boards can be double sided or multi-layer and have holes known as vias that connect the conductive layers.

Some industries that utilise assembled circuit board require them to operate in environments that can be very harsh on the equipment. These environments can include a very high level of vibration, which could loosen components or cause them to fail. They can also be subject to extreme temperature changes that would quickly degrade and melt the components and joints. They may also be exposed to chemical, solvents and gases that would corrode the components and affect their performance.

How PCBs Can Be Used in High-Vibration Environments

Various approaches have been used in the past to reduce vibration transmission through a PCB, including potting materials and complicated mechanical assemblies. However, these methods do not have the advantage of being compact and can add cost. Additionally, the moving parts of these mechanisms can create a lot of metallic dust that is detrimental to electronics operation.

For a circuit board to be successful, it must withstand both vibration and electrostatic discharge. Luckily, there are some simple PCB design techniques that can help. The right design priority and layout choices can reduce the chance of a failure due to mechanical vibration or prevent it from occurring in the first place.

The best way to reduce a PCB’s chance of failure in a harsh environment is to make sure that it is designed for the conditions that it will be operating under. This is done by choosing the correct components and making sure that they are positioned correctly on the board. It is also important to make sure that the component lead pins are as close to the PCB as possible. This will not only improve the PCB’s ability to resist vibration but will also increase its reliability.

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