Everything you need to know about PCB stiffener
Essential to ensuring optimal PCB performance, stiffeners provide structural support and help prevent warping that can detrimentally interfere with signal quality and lead to catastrophic failure. If you’re looking to take your printed circuit board (PCB) project to the next level, this blog post is for you! We’ll explore what PCB stiffener is, the advantages of incorporating them into your projects and how to choose the right types can make all the difference.
Additionally, we will review several key distinctions between various types of PCB stiffeners that you should be aware of as well. Let’s dive in!
What is stiffener in PCB?
PCBs (printed circuit boards) require stiffeners to provide support and strength; without them, the PCB would be too lax and unable to handle stress or hold components. Stiffeners are generally constructed from metals or composites and come in a variety of styles. With suitable stiffener implementation, it becomes possible for PCBs to weather any strain they may face during production processes.
Which material is the PCB stiffener?
The PCB stiffener is usually made of a glass-fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP), which helps to give the PCB additional strength and rigidity. The four main stiffener materials are FR4, polyimide, Aluminum, and stainless steel. This is important, as a PCB needs to be able to withstand the stress and strains placed on it from the components that are mounted on it, and from the Printed Circuit Board manufacturing process itself.
What is PCB stiffener used for?
PCB stiffeners are used to provide the ideal support for printed circuit boards, preserving their structural soundness and fortitude even in high-stress or seismic conditions. Without them, circuits can become weak and susceptible to damage from shocks or vibrations.
Additionally, PCB stiffeners can also help to improve heat dissipation and minimize the risk of board warping or damage. They are often made from thermally conductive materials like aluminium or copper, which aids in the transfer of heat away from sensitive components on the board.
Difference between rigid-flex PCBs and rigid PCBs based on FR4 stiffeners
The most distinguishing characteristic of a rigid-flex PCB compared to standard rigid boards fortified with FR4 stiffeners is its capacity for flexibility. Rigid-printed circuit boards supported by FR4 are restricted in how much they can flex, whereas the adaptable nature of a rigid-flex PCB allows it to bend and turn without breaking or cracking.
This is because a rigid-flex PCB has an underlying layer of flexible substrate material (usually polyimide), which gives it more flexibility than a PCB that relies solely on a hard substrate like FR4.
Benefits of PCB stiffeners
a. Increased strength
PCB stiffeners offer a range of rewards, but the most valuable one is indisputably their ability to significantly enhance PCB strength. This is especially beneficial in applications where the PCB will be subject to stress or vibration, as the increased strength can help to prevent damage.
b. Reduced weight
Another advantage of PCB stiffeners is that they can help to reduce the weight of the PCB. This is important in applications where weight is a critical factor, such as in aerospace and automotive applications.
c. Improved thermal conductivity
PCB stiffeners can also improve the thermal conductivity of the PCB. This is beneficial in applications where heat dissipation is a critical factor, such as in high-powered electronic devices.
d. Reduced cost
Another advantage of PCB stiffeners is that they can help to reduce the cost of the PCB. This is because stiffeners can often be made from cheaper materials than the rest of the PCB, and they can also be reused if the PCB needs to be repaired or replaced.
e. Increased reliability
Finally, another advantage of PCB stiffeners is that they can increase the reliability of the PCB. As stiffeners bolster printed circuit boards (PCBs) against warping or other damage which can occur during use or production.
PCB stiffeners thickness
The thickness of the stiffener ranges from 0.002″ to 0.059″. The thickness of rigid stiffeners ranges from 0.008″ to 0.059″. The thickness of PCB stiffeners will vary depending on the specific application and requirements. Generally, a stiffener with greater thickness offers more stability and support than one that is thinner.
How are PCB stiffeners attached to flexible PCBs?
PCB stiffeners are typically attached to flex PCB by soldering. A small amount of solder is placed on the end of the stiffener and then it is heated with a soldering iron until the solder melts and attaches to the PCB. The same process is repeated on the other end of the stiffener. This attachment ensures that the stiffener will not move around or come loose from the PCB.
How to choose the best stiffener PCB manufacturing company?
Searching for a reliable PCB manufacturing partner? Here are a few key characteristics to consider when making your selection:
a. Experience and track record
The company should possess extensive expertise in manufacturing stiffener PCBs and demonstrate an outstanding reputation for quality as well as customer satisfaction.
The company should be able to manufacture boards in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as with a variety of materials.
Another important factor is the quality of the equipment. The company should use state-of-the-art machinery and have a rigorous testing process in place to ensure the quality of its products. In addition, you should also check out their manufacturing process to make sure they are using best practices and employing skilled technicians.
d. Customer service
The company should be responsive to customer inquiries and should be willing to work with customers to ensure they are satisfied with the product.
PCBs (printed circuit boards) require stiffeners to provide support and strength; without them, the PCB would be too lax and unable to handle stress or hold components. Stiffeners are generally constructed from metals or composites and come in a variety of styles.
The four main stiffener materials are FR4, polyimide, Aluminum, and stainless steel.
- Increased strength
- Reduced weight
- Improved thermal conductivity
- Reduced cost
- Increased reliability
PCB stiffeners are necessary when mounting electronic components to the surface of a circuit board. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right material for your project including thermal conductivity, coefficient of expansion, weight, and cost.
With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to decide which product is best for your application. Fortunately, we are here to help. We hope that this article has given you all the basic details necessary for finding the perfect PCB stiffener for your unique project requirements.