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BGA Package: Different Types & Things You Should Know

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 28, 2023
bga package

Surface mount technology is known for its efficiency when it comes to electronic packages. One aspect that makes for an excellent surface-mount packaging is the Ball Grid Array, popularly known as BGA.

BGA package

Simply put a Ball Grid Array is a Surface Mount Component, which is an array of small conductor balls that come without leads. It is the solder balls that are responsible for passing the electricity from the package to the circuit board. Additionally, the BGA connects to the substrate which connects through wire bonding to the die. Electric signals are thus passed between the balls & the base.

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BGA offers many advantages that include:

  • It is quite compact & does not occupy much board space. In a scenario where miniaturization of boards is an increasing trend, its advantage cannot be overstated.
  • On account of its shape, it displays adhesion properties.
  • It is known for its heat dissipation properties
  • It is a good conductor of electricity
  • It is known for its cost-effectiveness

Some aspects to remember while using BGA packages, however, are that:

  • It requires extremely careful handling
  • Post soldering, it is difficult to inspect the solder balls

Types of BGA Packages

There are broadly 3 main types of BGA Packages, as below:

1. Ceramic BGA Package

Here the substrate is made of ceramic. Typically, the solder balls composition includes 90% lead and 10% tin. This kind of package scores in terms of its coefficient of thermal expansion. It has a very high melting point and is known for its thermal conductivity & electrical performance.

2. Plastic Laminate BGA

It was first invented by Motorola and is extremely popular when it comes to double-sided PCBs. Here the substrate is made up of plastic. The other materials involved include Polyimides, dry clad, Bismaleimide triazine epoxy glass. In terms of solder ball composition, it is 63% tin & 37% eutestic lead.

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3. Tape BGA

The advantages that this array offers are multiple:

  • The solder balls have fine lines with a flexible interconnect
  • The chip and heat sink can face downwards. If you choose to do that you need to go with the flip-chip technology. If chips are facing up, wire bond is recommended.
  • It typically works well for thin packages.
  • It is known for its heat dissipation & electrical conductivity.

4. Enhanced Ball Grid Array

Essentially this contains an added heat sink which improved thermal performance. Chips always face down here & wire bond is used for conduction.

5. Flip Chip BGA

The substrate material in this case is BT resin. This kind of array is known for its electrical performance as well as its cost-efficiency.

Typically, the lead:tin ratio here is 63:37, that offers improved surface tension in the melting state.

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6. Metal Ball Grid Array

The substrate used in this array, is aluminum. It is known for both its thermal & electrical performance.

7. Micro BGA

As its name suggests this array is known for its small size & it therefore finds usage in several compact applications. The substrate in this case is packaging tape. It also has an elastomer layer that ensures that there addresses the stress between the tape & the chip.

BGA Package Sizes

Here are some best practices to follow when it comes to BGA package sizes:

  • It is recommended that you use an NSMD pad size when it comes to BGA PCB designs of 0.4mm pitch.
  • If you are using ball sizes of 0.5 mm pitch or less, remember not to reduce BGA pad sizes.
  • When you are using ball pitches less than 0.4 mm, you need to create a bridging between NSMD pads
  • With small pad sizes, solder mask webbings aren’t good enough as adhesive strength is compromised.
  • There should be no traces on the external layers when it comes to BGA pads. On the internal layers, it is recommended to have one trace.

To Sum Up

The advantages of ball grid array for surface mount technology are immense. It is important that you take into account aspects such as weight of the product, heat generated and more, in making the right choice.

Hiring the right PCB manufacturer is also important. Contact Mer-Mar Electronics who have 40 years of experience in the PCB industry, Mer-Mar Electronics Provides PCB assembly, PCB design, and PCB fabrication services under one roof. Fill out the form below request a free quote or send us mail at sales@mermarinc.com.

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All About Aluminum PCB: Types, Process, and Applications

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 27, 2023
aluminum PCB

Metal Core Printed Circuit Boards are known to find use in several applications. Aluminum PCBs are one of these which are quite popular. Such PCBs are known for their electrical insulation & thermal conducting capabilities. When it comes to applications with high power & tight tolerances, their importance cannot be overstated.

Composition of an Aluminum PCB

Aluminum PCBs comprise of the following layers:

1. Copper Foil Layer

It is a thick layer of copper which is responsible for the higher current carrying capacity of Aluminum PCBs. The copper foil ranges from 1 to 10 ounces.

2. Dielectric Layer or the Insulating Layer

A thermally conductive layer, it is known for its insulation, bonding as well as dissipation of heat.

3. Aluminum Base

Made of aluminum substrate it is known for high thermal conductivity.

4. Aluminum Base Membrane Layer

It keeps the surface protected from scraping & etching. Typically, this layer has a thickness of 1 mm.

Process of manufacturing Aluminum PCBs

The various steps involved in manufacturing of aluminum PCBs include:

  • Pretreating Aluminum PCB laminates
  • Generating circuits on the copper layers
  • Drilling holes on production panels
  • Solder mask printing
  • Silkscreen printing
  • Choosing the surface finish
  • Punching & routing the PCBs

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Types of Aluminum PCBs

Broadly there are multiple types of aluminum PCBs, the choice of which depends upon the application in which they are being used. These include:

1. Through-hole Aluminum PCBs

Largely in such PCBs the aluminum is pre-drilled and laminate material applied.

2. Flexible Aluminum PCBs

As their name suggests they offer a high level of flexibility on account of the flexible dielectrics that are used. With such flexible PCBs, the need to use connectors is highly reduced.

3. Hybrid Aluminum PCBs

These find wide use in RF applications. They use a non-thermal material as the sub-assembly, which is bonded to the Aluminum base using thermal materials.

4. Multi layered aluminum PCBs

These have multiple layers of thermally conductive dielectrics. They are extremely suitable for heat conductivity in complex products.

What makes Aluminum PCBs so popular in various applications?

On account of its wide range of advantages, Aluminum PCBs find use in several applications. Some of these include:

  • They are light in weight and hence work very well for miniaturized, light-weight applications. Despite their light weight they are known for their strength.
  • They are known for their heat dissipation quality. With aluminum PCBs, you can rest assured that on account of its superior thermal expansion performance, the various components on the board have improved shelf life. Once again in case of high temperatures, aluminum substrate retains dimensional stability.
  • Aluminum PCBs come with a number of environmental benefits as they are non-toxic and also recyclable.

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  • With widespread availability of aluminum, these PCBs are economical & therefore do not increase the cost of the PCBs.

Where do Aluminum PCBs find use?

Aluminum PCBs are particularly preferred in applications that require effective heat dissipation. Some of the applications where there is widespread use of Aluminum PCBs include:

  • Audio Equipment
  • Power supply equipment
  • High power LED Lights
  • Automotive applications
  • Office automation equipment
  • Power modules
  • Industrial power equipment
  • Interior lighting
  • High-power scanners
  • Solar cell substrates
  • Semi-conductor refrigeration devices, and more.

To Sum Up

Aluminum PCBs are game changers because they offer improved heat dissipation, and they are extremely cost-effective. It is important to use the right contract manufacturer who has the requisite experience in manufacturing Aluminum PCBs.

In the absence of rich experience, the PCB manufacturer may face issues related to areas such as solder mask printing where a thick copper foil can hinder solder mask printing.

For this, using a quality solder mask oil or filling in resin before the solder mask are an effective solution.

Similarly, it is important to know how to store aluminum PCBs as they attract moisture. When you partner with Mer-mar Electronics you can rest assured that you will get the right product. Mer-mar Electronics is ISO-9001:2015 AS9100D Certified who has 40 years of experience in PCB assembly and PCB fabrication. Fill out the form below to request a free quote now.

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PCB Shield: Types of Shielding, Material Used, and Importance!

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 25, 2023
pcb shield

The one thing you need to protect an electronic circuit against is electromagnetic interference. Failure to do so will result in performance issues and could also lead to PCB failure.

It is the Electromagnetic Compatibility or EMC that determines that a device is compatible with its environment.

In order to design PCBs with EMC, some simple design guidelines can come in handy. Some of these include:

PCB Guidelines for EMC

  • Referencing high-speed signals to a solid plane.
  • Ensuring that the current flow in any trace on a PCB completes the entire circuit loop and comes back to the source through the reference plane.
  • Ensuring that the return current follows the path of least impedance.

An important way that takes care of EMI is PCB Shielding.

What is PCB Shield?

PCB Shielding is essentially an effective way of protecting the board against electromagnetic signals. Additionally, they make sure that stronger signals do not escape. In the absence of this, there can be crosstalk, power supply noises, electromagnetic interference and more. Electromagnetic Interference can particularly lead to issues such as disrupted communication, interference with wireless devices, component failure as well as software errors.

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How to implement EMI shielding in your PCB layout?

There are several ways to implement EMI shielding in the PCB layout. Some of these include:

  • Metal shielding cans involve the use of a metal box that restricts electromagnetic radiation.
  • Elastomer electromagnetic shielding materials.
  • Ferrite beads, rods, and plates.
  • High conductivity mesh materials.
  • Separated ground replacements.

It is important to remember that irrespective of which method you choose you need to follow the best practices when it comes to installing the chosen shielding.

Types of PCB Shielding

There are broadly two types of PCB Shielding:

1. PCB RF Shielding

These work by lowering the coupling of electromagnetic fields & hence blocking electromagnetic radiation & radio frequencies. These shields also include a Faraday Cage.

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2. Arduino Shielding

This shield can be mounted on top of the Arduino board. Particularly Arduino has a wide range of shields for prototyping. These are preferred as they are easy to use and are known to be extremely cost-efficient. Importantly there is a library available with editable codes, that renders the process simple. Additionally, the added advantage they offer is that Arduino shields can be stacked on top of each other. They, therefore, combine different functionalities. An important aspect to be remembered here is that the shields must use the pins of the Arduino board itself as there needs to be a common GND. Arduino Shields placed on Arduino Boards help in wireless communication, motor control, LCD control, connecting to internet frameworks, to mention a few use cases.

Arduino Shields, in turn, are of various types. These include:

  • Wireless Shields
  • Ethernet Shields
  • GSM Shield
  • Proto Shield

Attributes of PCB Shield

With a PCB level shield, the following features can be incorporated:

  • You can ensure a small footprint.
  • Through-hole or surface mount.
  • There are ventilation holes.
  • Removable covers ensure easy access to components.
  • Shock & vibration can be countered with locking mechanisms.
  • There is insulation padding.
  • low-profile configurations.
  • Multi-cavity patterns.

Material used in PCB Shielding

Normally the following material is widely used in PCB shielding:

  • Tin plated cold rolled steel
  • Tin plated copper
  • Nickel silver
  • Stainless steel
  • Tin plated phosphorous bronze

As a thumb rule, tin-plated steel is preferred if the shielding is below 100 MHz & tin-plated copper is used if it is above 200MHz.

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A Word of Caution

While tin plating is extensively used as it renders soldering easy, the use of aluminum isn’t preferred as it is known to have heat-sinking properties.

To sum up

PCB shielding is the much-needed protection that your circuit requires. Depending on your frequency range, you need to choose the best-suited material. With RF PCB shields you can also block out radio frequency.

To get high-quality PCB hiring an experienced PCB manufacturer is the best option. If you are looking for an experienced PCB manufacturer, then you are at the right place. Mermar Electronics has 40 years of experience in delivering high-quality PCB. Mermar Electronics is an ISO-9001:2015 AS9100D Certified who provides PCB assembly, PCB fabrication, and PCB design services under one roof. Fill out the form below to request a free quote now.

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Important PCB Design Files for PCB Assembly & Fabrication

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 2, 2023
pcb design files

While a PCB ensures the success of an electronic device, it is possible for the PCB to do so if it is fabricated correctly. To do that it is important that the PCB design files to describe the board specifications correctly. Detailed documentation ensures that there is no guesswork when it comes to fabricating & assembling the boards.

Some of the important PCB design files include Gerber Files, IPC-2581, Netlist, Drill Files, BOM, Fab Drawings, Pick & Place Files & ODB++ Files. Let us look at some of these design output files in detail:

Files Needed for PCB Assembly

1. PCB Gerber Files

These files are generated once the layout design is complete. In fact, Gerber files are generated for every layer of the PCB. Some of the Gerber Files for manufacturing therefore include:

  • Aperture definitions
  • TOP
  • Solder Mask Top
  • Solder Paste Top
  • BOT or bottom layer
  • Solder Paste Bottom
  • Silkscreen Top
  • Silkscreen Bottom
  • Assembly Top
  • Assembly Bottom, and more

It is the complexity of the board that determines the number of files created.

Files Needed for PCB Fabrication

1. ODB++ Files

Simply put, these files help designers combine all information as also run the necessary manufacturability tests. An intelligent file, it consists of material stack-up, bill of materials, component placement and more, in a single file. Unlike a Gerber file, the ODB++ Files include a large amount of data and also take away the possibility of human errors.

2. Bill of Materials (BOM)

An extremely important file, it contains a list of all the components required in the PCB. Some of the other crucial information mentioned in the PCB BOM includes:

  • Description of parts
  • The quantity required
  • Manufacturer Part Number
  • Footprint of the component
  • Any notes or comments

3. FAB Drawings

These offer manufacturing details of the PCB. Some of the information includes:

  • Board Dimensions including the length, width & thickness
  • Board Outline- It is imperative that for denser boards that have buried vias, additional outlines be added.
  • Drill Details- It needs to include the different drills used such as laser holes, micro via, via on pad, plugged via, blind via & buried via.
  • Stack-up details including
    • Finished PCB thickness- Typically the finished PCB thickness is 62 mils
    • Prepeg thickness- This is dependent on adjacent layers
    • Copper thickness- Typically the thickness of the plating ranges from 20 to 100 microinches
    • Copper cladding thickness- This largely is contingent upon the strength of the current
  • Copper trace & etching tolerance
  • Class of fabrication
  • Color of solder mask
  • Color of silkscreen
  • Impedance Traces, and more

4. Drill Files

With drilling being an expensive as well as an irreversible process, a drill file has a lot of importance. It indicates the position, the size as well as the number of holes in the PCB. The drill holes can be plated or non-plated. Non-plated holes are used as mounting holes. These are also used when the PCB has to be electrically isolated. There are separate files created for plated as well as non-plated holes.

5. IPC-2581

This is a PCB assembly & manufacturing standard. IPC-2581 has a large number of files within a single file. It contains the following information:

  • Layer stack information
  • Material information
  • Test Points
  • Notes for Assembly
  • BOM
  • Netlist in-circuit testing, and more

6. PCB Netlist

It is a list of networks that determine the board’s connectivity interconnection. A PCB netlist performs several functions. Firstly, it is possible to map the designer’s netlist with the manufacturer’s netlist. Customer netlist is also used for electrical validation of the PCB.

7. Pick & Place Files

With most PCB assembly processes being automated & using pick & place machines, Pick & Place files have a special importance. It offers information about the position as well as the orientation of components. Some of the information mentioned in Pick & place files include:

  • Location of components
  • Reference Designators
  • Orientation of components
  • Placement on top or bottom of the board, and more

To Sum Up

Detailed data received from designers can go a long way in ensuring that the PCBs are fabricated & assembled to perfection.  In the absence of this detailed data, there are chances of costly errors at a later stage.

Due emphasis paid at the design stage & effective communication with the manufacturer can go a long way in ensuring that the PCBs are efficient. You can contact Mermar Electronics who communicate with you regarding all files details before starting PCB process so you can avoid costly errors. Contact Mermar Electronics at sales@mermarinc.com or fill out form below to request a free quote.

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