You will find PCBs in almost all electronic devices. They connect different electronic components through conductive pathways. The most basic conductive material is copper.
But when do you use Copper PCB is the best choice? And how to protect them, where to get a series of questions, let us answer them for you.
1、Why Is Copper Used for Wiring in Components on Printed Circuit Boards?
So the major question that comes to any customer’s mind when purchasing copper circuit boards is why only copper is suitable. When compared to other substances, copper offers a few advantages.
Image 1: Copper PCB
For starters, copper offers better thermal and electric conductivity than most other metals, so that heat transfers through the circuit evenly. Even heat transfer is essential in this case because otherwise, uneven heating can put excessive stress on the PCB, which damages its components.
Copper has impressive electric conductivity, which means it transmits signals with minimal electrical energy loss.
Because of its conductive properties, printed circuit board manufacturers don't need countless tones of copper. Each copper circuit board will only require minimal amounts for proper functioning. From this angle, one ounce of copper makes for a copper layer thickness of 35 micrometers, which is enough to cover a whole square footing of a PCB substrate.
Most importantly, copper is easily available, which makes it comparatively less expensive than other metals.
1.4 Improves Electronics’ Reliability
Copper has an unmatched thermal resistance. This factor can increase the reliability of electronic devices that have to operate in harsh environments, such as those with high temperatures.
1.5 Reduces Assembly Costs
Thanks to copper’s even heat transfer capabilities, PCB manufacturers can install heat sinks onto the surface or build boards with one side that’s completely covered by a layer of copper, which also acts as a heat sink.
Regardless of the method selected by copper circuit board manufacturers, they cut the assembly process short, which significantly reduces manufacturing expenses.
2、Under What Circumstances Can Copper Be Used for PCBs?
Copper is essential for developing PCBs. Just like how it’s impossible to get around a big city without knowing the proper address, the electricity that travels through the PCB needs a proper route that allows it to reach its destination.
2.1When Using Copper, Here’s How to Choose Copper Thickness on a PCB
The thickness of a PCB will vary based on the number of copper layers used in it. Nonetheless, thicker boards work best because thinner ones are prone to breaking. When you opt for a thicker copper layer, the cost increases, but in some instances, this can be crucial.
For instance, when you have determined that your electronic device’s design will need a bigger current than what a typical PCB can hold.
2.2 Factors to Consider
Make sure to consider the following aspects when deciding upon the thickness of copper in your PCB design.
Using a thin baseboard will mean that your PCB will be overall much lighter. However, using a thicker board will only mean a heavier PCB because you'll be adding copper layers.
If you’re looking for flexibility, the thickness of copper will depend on how much flexibility you need. For instance, thinner can be flexible but are more prone to breaking. On the other hand, a thicker board means a heavier PCB, even if it provides more flexibility.
You should always consider how much space you'll be working with, before determining the copper thickness of your PCB. Thinner boards will easily fit into smaller spaces, and in most cases, small devices do work with thin boards.
The number of connections you need on a single PCB can help you determine how much copper thickness is needed.
2.2.5 Component Compatibility
The components you'll be using on the PCB also influence the copper thickness. For instance, you're using heavy and demanding components. They won't be compatible with a thin board that can't hold them.
3、How to Clean Copper PCB Before and After Soldering?
Cleaning your copper PCB before and after soldering is crucial because it helps improve the longevity, performance, and durability of the board.
3.1 The Importance of Cleaning Before and After Welding
Cleaning your copper PCB before soldering is important because it removes any films or oils that can affect the future performance of the board and prevent effective soldering. Cleaning your PCB after soldering is to remove any flux that could have remained on the board.
Since solder flux is acidic, it reduces the efficacy of the solder joint over time. Hence, cleaning up any remaining flux is important to preserve the PCB.
3.2 How to Do It
Make sure only to use isopropyl alcohol to clean your PCB before and after soldering, and not rubbing alcohol. That's because you want concentrated alcohol to clean your PCB – isopropyl alcohol is 95% alcohol while rubbing alcohol is only 50% alcohol. s
Do this by using a small brush or q-tip. Dip the brush or q-tip in isopropyl alcohol and wipe it across the surface of the PCB. Then, wipe it using a dry cloth to keep it dry. Repeat this before and after the soldering process.
4、How to Remove Copper Traces off of Circuit Boards
One of the most exciting conversations surrounding copper circuit boards is how manufacturers, developers, and engineers can retrieve copper from old PC boards. The thin layer of copper adhering to a PCB is in the form of traces or wiring that sends an electrical current to all the soldered components and other circuits.
After removing the soldered-on electronic components, it’s possible to recycle copper traces. These have to be stripped and sent to a specific recycling center.
Start by using your hobby knife to cut each copper trace that begins on one end. Use pliers to grasp one of the cut ends. It may be complicated to get under a copper trace, so it’s easier to start the process by prying up the evidence using the tip of your knife.
Once you grasp it, pull the copper trace away from the copper PCB board, so it comes off cleanly. This step is just for one copper trace – developers have to repeat this countless times on different trails.
5、How is Copper Recovered from Printed Circuit Boards?
We mentioned how copper is a readily available metal, but what you should also know that you can extract it fully from used PCBs. This video is just an example of how you can recover a valuable metal from low-value circuit boards.
Image 2: Copper PCB
6、How to Preserve Copper PCB
Copper PCBs are prone to corrosion and oxidation, both of which can impact the efficiency of the board. Here’s how to protect your PCBs from corrosion and oxidation.
6.1 Request a Finish
First and foremost, you should request your PCB manufacturer for a protective layer that covers the copper. The solder mask, in this case, helps in preventing parts of the circuit where you didn’t solder, from oxidation.
However, you can’t use a solder mask in all circuit boards since it affects performance at high frequencies.
6.2 Keep the PCBs Away From Humidity
Upon receiving your PCBs from the manufacturer, you'll notice that they're vacuum-sealed. It is the optimal condition to keep them in since it protects them from humidity and moisture. Once you remove them from the packaging, you should invest in a humidity-free container to keep them back.
6.3 Apply a Conformal Coating
After soldering the PCB, it recommends that you protect the board with conformal coating before integrating it in the desired electronic device. These lacquers or varnishes preserve the circuit from oxidation and corrosion.
6.4 Keep Your PCBs from Coming into Contact with Corrosive Metals
Depending on the enclosure you integrate the PCB in, it can still destroy or oxidize. For instance, plastic pens are entirely closed off, effectively preventing corrosion. On the other hand, you may select a metal-based ring for harsh environments.
Metallic enclosures often include aluminum, which is a highly corrosive metal. Keeping copper PCBs in such proximity to aluminum can lead to oxidation so treat the ring accordingly.
6.5 Rely on Hermetic Sealed Packaging
You can rely on hermetically sealed packages to prevent environmental conditions from affecting the PCB. However, sealing the PCB in the container has to be completed in a controlled environment. It can keep any moisture from being trapped inside the packaging and destroying the PCB.
7、How to Preserve Copper PCB
When looking for the best copper clad boards, customers need a manufacturer that produces high-quality CCL with a standard.
7.1 OurPCB solution
Along with meeting general requirements for CCL production, here’s what OurPCB can offer.
7.1.1 Speedy Quotes
U.S. manufacturers tend to take a long time to prepare a quote unless they employ the right automated facilities. On the other hand, OurPCB can give potential clients a quick quote within 48 hours so customers can make a well-informed decision.
7.1.2 Quick Delivery Time
When it comes down to lead time, we employ three different shifts and provide expedited processing services. This process prevents the delivery from reaching late, so delivery times are similar to what they expect from local companies.
In this case, OurPCB uses air service delivery via companies like FedEx and DHL. Not to mention, customers get a quick delivery time that’s within the range of 1 to 3 days, so you get your order quickly.
7.1.3 Customer Service
OurPCB believes in offering customers the highest standard of customer service. Hence, you’ll find that our competent staff is always available to answer queries and give information to facilitate a smooth company-customer interaction.
7.1.4 Resolving Quality Issues
In some situations, customers likely run into minor quality issues. In that case, you should provide us with a review or picture, so that our quality check department can determine whether you're facing a quality-related issue.
In rare events, you may have to return a sample for a thorough inspection. It’ll only take us a few days to return feedback on the issue, so customers don’t have to wait. In the situation that you’re facing a quality problem, the factory can offer replacements that will soon be delivered.
7.1.5 Customer Data Confidentiality
For any customer dealing with a company in a different country, confidentiality is a must, and it impacts their final decision. You'd prefer a manufacturer that emphasizes on privacy protection and design rights. At OurPCB, you will be signing a confidentiality agreement that protects your information.
7.1.6 Payment Options
No matter what industry, customers enjoy added value when it comes to payment options. OurPCB can offer cash on delivery and other payment options for convenience.
Image 3: Copper PCB
Customers have to balance various elements to choose the ideal copper circuit board manufacturer, whether based on the cost, production strategy, or delivery time.
At OurPCB, customers can find a satisfactory solution for all their copper circuit board requirements. Call us today for an opportunity to get high quality printed circuit boards.
If you have any further queries or questions, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.