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What is the basic definition of automotive PCB design?

To achieve the smart operational requirements of advanced automotive systems necessitates following specific essential automotive PCB design guidelines. These guidelines can be best understood by first exploring the challenges of designing boards for these vehicles. In this article, we will focus the features of automotive PCB, please check the content we prepare to learn more information about it.

In order to meet the stringent requirements of space, weight and cost, automotive industry uses different types of PCBs that differ from each other both in the structure and in the type of material or substrate used. The main types of PCBs for automotive applications are as follows:

  • Rigid PCBs: these are the traditional PCBs, not flexible and normally manufactured using FR4. Applications includes display monitors and reverse cam screens;
  • Flex PCBs: these printed circuit boards are built with flexible plastic substrates and use of materials such as polyamide, polyetheretherketone (peek) or transparent polyester films. The advantage of these boards is that they can be twisted and bent. Applications are numerous, especially where space is limited or irregular in shape, and include the connection of displays, control panels and light switches;
  • Rigid-flex PCBs: they are a combination of the two types of PCBs mentioned above and therefore offer the advantages of both. Rigid-flex PCBs are used, for instance, in lighting systems;
  • LED PCBs: the increasingly massive use of high power and high brightness LEDs requires PCBs with excellent heat dissipation, typically made with a metal substrate such as aluminum. PCBs of this type are used in car indicators, headlights, and brake lights;
  • HDI PCBs: HDI, acronym for High Density Interconnect, indicates printed circuit boards with high density of electrical connections per unit of area. These PCBs have finer spaces and lines, minor vias and capture pads and higher connection pad density. Widely used in infotainment systems, HDI PCBs help improve the quality of wiring, reducing the weight and size of the solution.

What are the multiple categories of automotive PCBs?

Automobiles combine machinery and electronic equipment. Modern automobile technology integrates traditional technique and advancing scientific technology, such as manual inner decorating parts and advancing GPS. In modern automobiles, there is electronic equipment with different functions at different positions and different functions derive from different types of PCBs.

According to substrate materials, automotive PCBs can be classified into two main categories: inorganic ceramic-based PCB and organic resin-based PCB. Ceramic-based PCB features high temperature resistance and excellent size stability, making it directly applied in motor system with high temperature. However, it features bad ceramic manufacturability and high cost. At present, with the development of resin substrate material in terms of its heat resistance capability, resin-based PCB has been widely applied in automobiles with substrate material with different performances applied in different positions.

Generally speaking, Flexible PCBs and Rigid PCBs are applied in normal gauges indicating vehicle speed and mileage and air conditioner equipment. Double-layer or multi-layer PCBs and Flex PCBs are used in audio and video entertainment equipment inside automobiles. For communication and wireless positioning equipment and security control equipment, multi-layer PCBs, HDI printed circuit boards and Flex PCBs are applied.

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