Feb 13, 2020|General
Looking for an alternative to conventional PCB materials? In recent years, polyimide PCB has become one of the most popular choices for people who want something other than regular FR4 boards. Here’s what you need to know about these products and what printed circuit board manufacturers can do with them.
What Is Polyimide/Polyamide PCB Material?
Polyimide boards are synthetically-produced plastics that have outstanding strength and temperature stability. This makes them an ideal choice for use in electronics, aircraft components, sporting products, and other goods.
What are PCBs made of besides polyimides, you ask? PCBs use a variety of different materials, but the average PCB board material is some type of plastic that companies have decided is a viable choice for printed circuit boards.
Polyimide vs Polyamide: Polyimides and polyamides are different materials. Polyimides are synthetic resins, while polyamides are synthetic polymers and usually do better in thread forms (like nylon).
Types of Polyimides
Here are the most common types of polyimides currently on the market.
Sometimes known as 2nd generation polyimides, pure polyimides do not have brominated flame retardants or additional additives. This makes them extremely stable, thermally speaking, and more resistant to temperature changes than most other polyimides. While not the newest version, pure polyimides still see a lot of use thanks to their overall strength.
3rd Generation Polyimides
3rd generation polyimides are newer than pure polyimides and include additives to increase their resistance to flammability, which is a crucial inhibitor against electrical fires. They are not as thermally stable as pure polyimides, but they also have a faster production time, which is ideal for making products in bulk.
Filled polyimides contain one or more filler materials that help to resist resin shrinkage. Some types of polyimides tend to crack during curing or drilling processes, so these can maximize the long-term stability of the product.
Low-flow polyimides don’t have as much flexibility, which is ideal for printed circuit boards that need to stay stiff and tough in rough environments. Low-flow polyimides are mostly a specialty material used for PCB solutions when conventional materials aren’t quite enough.
When Should It Be Used?
Polyimides may be a good choice if your printed circuit boards require any of the following characteristics. Don’t start ordering just yet, though – only an expert can determine if a polyimide PCB is the best choice for you.
Here at Candor Industries, we believe in giving each client personalized advice and support, and we’re proud to be a PCB manufacturer that our clients trust to provide useful and relevant information.
Most types of polyimides (excluding low-flow versions) have excellent flexibility, allowing them to bend and move around a little more in products. As with any material, there are limits to this, but this flexibility is useful for absorbing impacts and can help products last longer if they get banged up a lot.
Excellent Tensile Strength
Just like their flexibility, polyimides have outstanding tensile strength, which means they’re tough and resist warping. This is also helpful when creating products that require physical durability, including most handheld electronics or circuit boards for items that will get moved around and banged up a lot.
Very Thermally Stable
Polyimides don’t change temperatures very quickly, and when they do, it rarely damages the materials. The exact strength depends on the polyimide itself, but current choices allow them to function in temperatures ranging from -200 to 300 degrees Celsius.
This is a significantly more extensive operating range than many other circuit board materials, making polyimides an outstanding choice for working in hostile temperature ranges.
Resistant to Chemicals
Aside from their resistance to heat, polyimides are chemically stable. This means they suffer little or no corrosion even when exposed to otherwise-hostile chemicals, which is particularly helpful when you need to operate a machine that’s exposed to such chemicals.
Finally, most polyimides can handle physical stress. This means they will retain their shape even when subjected to physical pressure or rough thermal conditions.
What Are the Applications?
Modern polyimides see use in many different industries. Here are some of the most common situations that companies ask a PCB manufacturing company for help with.
Many companies have switched over to using a polyimide PCB material for their computer electronics. People pick up, drop, move, and generally batter their electronics, so the durability and resistance to temperature changes are particularly helpful for most modern electronics manufacturers.
Automotive electronics often face a harsher environment than other types of computers and systems. Between the heat of summer, the cold of winter, and all the banging and jostling of various forces, automotive electronics need more durability than ever before.
This is particularly true with the increasing popularity of electronic and smart cars, where a polyimide circuit board may be the only practical choice.
Consumer electronics are not the same thing as computer electronics. This is a broader category that includes many consumer-focused goods that require circuit boards and, thus, polyimide PCB properties.
Medical Industry Electronics
Medical industry electronics have special requirements not found in most other industries, making polyimide PCB laminate techniques particularly useful. Aside from going into hostile environments, many medical industry electronics also need to remain lightweight and minimize signal interference, so anything that’s more effective there is typically worth the cost.
Military and Aerospace Electronics
Aerospace and military electronics see some of the most hostile environments on the planet, including deadly explosions. Polyimide PCBs are not invincible, but their durability allows them to keep functioning in hostile environments until wholly overwhelmed. This could be the difference between life or death for soldiers or success on a critical flight or mission.
Where Can I Get Polyimide/Polyamide PCB’s?
The best place to get polyimide PCBs is straight from manufacturers like Candor Industries. We can analyze the needs of your product, help you with design work, and provide additional input and guidance to ensure that you get printed circuit boards that match your needs.