The power PCB design is becoming a more and more popular topic in electronics. Manufacturers, producers, and testers of any printed circuit board variation need to be well aware of how more relevant power PCBs are becoming.
Unlike standard PCBs, power PCBs can conduct considerable currents without compromising efficiency or losing power.
Knowing this is important because, Among the many electronic products under development, people choose to optimize the power supply PCB instead of the standard PCB.
One of the biggest issues with power PCBs is how they are created and designed. If you are new to the circuit industry, there are five things you should understand.
1、What is the Power PCB?
A standard PCB is what every electronic device uses to organize the electrical currents that flow through the device. Anybody who works with anything electronic knows this.
What, then, is a Power PCB?
The thing that separates a power PCB from a standard PCB has to do with the resistance path and current capacity.
What a power PCB does is conduct considerable currents while at the same time not sacrificing power or efficiency.
Why is this Important?
A lot of today's electronics are responsible for generating a lot of power. Take a smartphone, for instance. Even if they are in flight mode, smartphones still require a lot of power to operate.
Something else that power PCBs do is find a way to make everything compact in a circuit board; this way, they can be placed inside electronics that need a lot of power to operate.
Different from a standard PCB, a power PCB also has to be designed so that everything is compact without sacrificing efficiency. It is especially true if the device that the circuit board supports is something like a smartphone, a tablet, or anything that can access data.
While standard PCBs still have their place in electronics, the demand for more advanced electronics is greater than ever. Power PCBs are much more effective for these advanced electronics because it is only possible for a PCB to be compact yet powerful if it follows a power PCB design.
Designing a power PCB can take a lot of time and effort. The best PCB manufacturers who design circuit boards use software to design them, and having the proper software is the industry standard when it comes to something like this.
What kind of software should you use? This question is worth a detailed explanation.
Image 1: Power PCB Design
2、 What Kind of Software Should You Use When Designing a Power PCB?
Image 2: Power PCB Design
Designing the right power PCB will require you to do different things compared to a standard PCB. Simultaneously, it is possible to design standard PCBs without a blueprint or software because of how simple it is to design them; designing a power PCB is completely different.
You will need software to design a power PCB. The design schemes behind them are much too complicated to design without software. The calculation method of the trace width and current threshold of the power PCB is quite different from that of the standard PCB.
There is no denying that you need software to design the power PCB. The only question is: Should you pay for power PCB design software or not?
The answer to this question is dependent on a few things.
How familiar you already may be with PCB design software is the first thing this is dependent on. If you have used PCB design software in the past, you might get away with using free PCB design software.
If you perform PCB production for a large organization with an ample budget, you’ll probably be able to benefit a little more from paid PCB design software.
The complexity of the power PCBs you are interested in designing and producing is another thing you should consider. There are some power PCBs that are more complex in their design than others. In these cases, you might want to spend money on design software.
If the power PCB you are interested in is designed for mass production or similar design, you can benefit more from free design software because free PCB design software is usually sufficient to create blueprints for large-scale PCB production.
While the value of paid PCB design software is inherent, there are a lot of questions that surround free PCB design software. This video will show you ten of the best free PCB design programs.
3、Required Materials for a Power PCB
Image 3: Power PCB Design
Although there are differences between necessary materials among PCBs, it is still possible to use the same materials in a power PCB that you can use in a standard PCB.
The most common materials that any given circuit board can use. Silkscreen, solder mask, copper, and substrate are the foundation of nearly any circuit board, and power PCBs are no exception to this.
Additionally, the most common process that this takes is that each of these materials represents a different PCB layer.
In the power PCB, you can accomplish similar things. But there are only a couple of differences.
The first of these differences have to do with controlling the heavier components. It is especially true in the example of the above image, where you might need a small power PCB that can still transfer heavy currents.
Another thing different about a power PCB has to do with copper levels and how the copper is processed. Most power PCBs use a high thickness copper grater. They also demand a solder bridge in most cases as well.
These are the adjustments you need to make when creating your bill of materials for a power PCB.
Another component that may not be specific to power PCBs but certainly includes power PCBs are ground planes.
4、The Importance of Ground Planes in Power PCBs
Image 4: Power PCB Design
Something else that PCBs rely on are ground planes.
Not only for circuit boards but also digital antennas, the purpose of a ground plane is to micromanage currents. It will keep copper grounded in a PCB, and since the copper in a power PCB tends to be thicker, it is a stronger conductor.
A ground plane does separate the distance from the signal and the return currents on a PCB. Again, since power PCBs are designed to be a lot more compact yet need to handle some pretty significant changes.
When designing a power PCB, you will need to keep in mind how you intend to keep the copper in the board ground. Not only do ground planes keep copper grounded so that the currents they experience do not go haywire, but they are also responsible for organizing currents.
You should know about ground planes because they are most effective on multiple layer PCBs since you can use an entire layer to accomplish this grounding process.
Ground planes are closely related to any layouts of the PCB, not just a power PCB. Whether you are using paid or free PCB design software, you need to be very aware of the role that ground planes play in your power PCB layout.
5、Layout Considerations for a Power PCB
You’ll have an easier time working with power PCBs if you know the differences in layout.
Although the organization is important in the layout of any given PCB, it is even more important in the layout of a power PCB.
Remember that power PCBs deal need to handle a lot of energy for a very compact design that needs to handle larger currents.
Because of this, you will need to find a way to make sure that the reference points do not crowd the board, that the ground planes are not partial, and that you have proper cooling space even more than usual.
The shortcuts you may have taken when laying out other PCBs cannot be taken when determining a layout for a power PCB. It would help if you considered everything.
You do not have the luxury of having a lot of room to work with when choosing a power PCB layout. You may need to give up a few things that are a quick fix when choosing a standard PCB layout. It is one challenge that you will likely face.
Another challenge that you will face involves tracks. The lack of room that you have means that it is very likely that you will cross tracks. It is the reason previously mentioned ground plane. Ground planes can manage crosstalk, and if you do need to cross tracks, you can do it at right angles to manage crosstalk even more.
These are challenges because they are something that some PCB designers may not be able to use entirely. If you have been assigned to create layouts for power PCBs, do some research on these kinds of techniques.
Image 5: Power PCB Design
6、Where and How Can I acquire a Power PCB?
Different than standard PCBs, power PCBs are built differently and require a different skillset in their design.
One thing that OurPCB does is take standard PCBs and design them to fit the power PCB profile.
We also customize power PCBs themselves to make them even more efficient. To do this, we have acquired information on design drawings that can make it much easier for you to create a reliable power PCB layout.
These design drawings will accompany the Gerber files used in any design software you use.
Any other organization would not only have a non-negotiable price for something like this, but it will also take a long time for them to come up with a quote.
OurPCB is the exact opposite. We ship to anywhere in the world and deliver very quickly. When your order is set up, you’ll get your quote immediately. You will not need to wait for your quote at all.
Materials that support power PCB construction can be pretty difficult to come by. OurPCB can customize circuit boards to make them suitable for power PCBs.
Even if you are ordering something from us for the first time, you will enter this plan, and you will save money on your very first purchase.
You should find an order form at the bottom of this page. Let us know if you need PCBs that need to be customized, and we will work with you.