PCB trace – ins and outs you need to know
Are you worried about connecting devices to electronic circuit boards?
While you are handling PCB components in electronic circuits, a well-designed PCB trace brings out flexibility, along with improving functional quality.
But how to control the circuit board trace? Have any idea about its design?
This article delivers all the necessary explanations about PCB traces. Let’s make a move.
What is trace in PCB?
In a nutshell, PCB trace is an electric track that offers intense conductivity.
In most cases, copper materials are used in making traces. The primary goal of incorporating traces on a circuit board is to establish a secure connection between PCB components.
Besides, traces on a circuit board conduct electricity with minimum time delay. Because of using electrically stable and conductive copper, traces impact signal transmission of high-power and high-frequency circuits. That means it has an impact on handling the electrical and thermal stresses of electrical devices.
Usually, manufacturers fabricate PCB traces when the circuit board is placed into a chemical solution to eliminate unwanted coppers. If the conductive path of joining circuit board elements becomes flawless, the device’s performance lifts to the next level.
Moreover, traces integrate the essential parts of a circuit, like connecting wires, fuses, insulations, etc. The success of PCB manufacturing depends on this step.
What is PCB trace thickness?
PCB trace thickness is a critical factor for developing a flawless circuit. It is highly recommended to maintain a stable thickness throughout the circuit board. But do you have any idea about the most appropriate trace thickness?
The most common trace thicknesses are 0.5 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, 6 oz, 10 oz, etc. It mainly depends on some issues like the maximum current carrying capacity, trace resistance, number of layers, and single or double-sided PCB.
Manufacturers give a high priority to PCB trace thickness while designing high-frequency PCB or high-density PCB applications. A mismatched trace thickness can damage the PCB components to a great extent. That’s why you should focus on this subject during the PCB design.
What is PCB trace resistance?
There are some pivotal factors that you can’t ignore while dealing with single or multilayer PCB traces. PCB trace resistance is one of them, just like trace length, trace width, robustness, power, and ampere capacity.
It is an electrical property that measures the obstruction of current flow through the trace. Though copper materials are considered highly conductive, their various compositions offer a certain amount of resistance. You must ensure a low trace resistance to achieve desired current conduction.
The following formula is used to measure the trace resistance-
PCB trace width calculator
Nowadays, various tools are used in PCB circuit designing to make the design flawless and effortless. The PCB trace width calculator is a dependable one among them, which performence is tremendous.
The way this tool delivers result considering all factors is commendable and brings easiness to the designers.
But you must input specifications like trace thickness, temperature, and current rating to getr the specific width required to handle the operating current.
PCB trace current
PCB designers face problems determining the current limit for the PCB trace.
Instead of depending on the backtrack measurements, there are more feasible ways to handle PCB trace current in high-power and high-current circuits, except depending on random values.
In that case, you must think about the following checklist first-
- Copper thickness
- Dielectric constant
- Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE)
- Trace length
- Trace width
PCB trace width vs current
PCB trace width significantly impacts PCB current conduction capacity.
Watch this video to get a better understanding of this issue:
Can you repair a PCB trace?
PCB traces are reparable to a certain extent. But do you know how the circuit board traces get broken?
Usually, extreme mechanical, thermal, and electrical stresses are responsible for this problem in the electronic world. This is very common in high-pressure and high-current PCB applications.
In the earlier stage, the traditional way of repairing a trace on a printed circuit board is bypassing an electrical wire around the broken trace. But can you imagine a PCB bonded with a wire? This is not good to see.
Moreover, this process is time-consuming. That’s why manufacturers don’t prefer this repair for modern PCB-based applications.
So, what to do now?
In the contemporary era, conductive pens are highly effective in repairing damaged traces. Conductive pens contain a unique silver and nickel polymer that ensures premium flexibility while drawing the traces on the circuit board again.
But you must consider the following issues when using a conductive pen on the circuit board-
- Isolate the damaged part of the PCB trace.
- Wash the broken trace properly through Isopropyl Alchohol or a remover pen.
- Then, put the conductive ink from an overcoat pen on the damaged portion and redraw the trace.
- Shaking the conductive pen before using renders ease while using it.
If you intend to watch a visual representation of repairing a trace, check this video
A PCB trace is a thin line of conducting copper placed on a non-conductive or isolated base material that carries the signal and power to the whole circuit.
PCB trace thickness is a critical factor for developing a flawless circuit. The most common trace thicknesses are 0.5 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, 6 oz, 10 oz, etc.
PCB trace resistance is an electrical property that measures the obstruction of current flow through the trace.
If you have already gone through this article thoroughly, you have expertise on the use of PCB trace in the circuit board. As it affects current conduction, you must calculate the parameters related to the trace cautiously.