Machinable Glass Ceramics Are Changing Printed Circuit Boards and replacing traditional glass fibre and epoxy laminates on circuit boards are being replaced by machinable glass ceramics, watch this space !
A traditional printed circuit board has a very familiar look. It looks thin and green and is made of a composite material of glass fibre and epoxy resin. This is the base where all of the circuit components are placed, such as the resistors, capacitors and transistors that make up the integrated circuit. Connections between these components are made of metal that is etched on to the circuit board’s surface.
But the electronics market has been changing at a very rapid pace over recent years. Not only is there a growing demand for new devices, but they also have to be smaller, faster and more energy-efficient than before. So, manufacturers are faced with the problems of housing ever more miniaturised devices that, because of their higher performance, produce much more heat during their operation. All within a small space that is becoming ever smaller.
The high temperatures that are generated within these devices can mean bad news for the consumer. The devices are apt to wear out or become so faulty that they are useless and need changing. The heat generated can also cause some dangerous chemical reactions with the devices’ batteries, especially when these are lithium-ion batteries.
The growing need for super-insulating materials in these devices has created another role for machinable glass ceramics. These are materials that have the appearance of elegant porcelain but perform like the highest grade of polymers. Machinable glass ceramics such as Macor are tough, versatile, have no porosity and do not degas. They also can be worked by standard cutting machinery.
Machinable glass ceramics can solve all of the heat-generation problems in new electronic devices. They are chemically stable to temperatures of nearly 800 degrees Celsius but can still operate well even if the temperatures reach 1000 degrees Celsius.
They are absolutely uniform so, unlike metals, they will not creep or deform. This means that such ceramics can be used as thermal insulators at very high voltages and over a very great range of frequencies.
The final product quality is vastly improved with the new ceramics. As the ceramic circuit board remains un-deformed and of a uniform density throughout its operational lifetime, smartphone and other electronic-device users can feel confident of signal quality. Gone are the days when substrate deformations would produce out-of-phase signals that were always cancelling each other out.
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