The Future of Macor in Printed Circuit Boards

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Machineable glass ceramics such as Macor may change the foundations of the printed circuit board market. Read on to find out more.
The structural foundations of the printed circuit board market are laminates made of glass fibre and epoxy. These are thin and usually green cards that support all of the circuit components such as resistors, transistors and capacitors within an integrated circuit. They connect together through conducting paths that are etched on the card’s surface.

Macor machinable glass ceramic

Macor machinable glass ceramic

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But as demand in the electronic market focuses on ever smaller and more energy-efficient devices, higher speeds and performance and adaptation to 3D printing, will this glass-fibre composite meet new and tougher requirements? The new, sophisticated, high-performance miniaturised devices produce more heat in an ever smaller space.

These higher temperatures mean that items such as smartphones need charging more often, as the higher heat generation causes unwanted chemical reactions in lithium ion batteries. In addition, the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are used in cameras, key pads and backlights, means that there is a need for better insulating materials to cope with the extra heat produced. This is where machineable ceramics such as Macor are finding an increasing role.

Macor looks like porcelain but performs like a high-grade polymer. This tough technical ceramic is versatile and machineable but exhibits no porosity and does not let out gas.

Developed by Corning, its composition is 55 per cent fluorophlogopite mica and 45 per cent borosilicate glass. It can be machined into complicated shapes to an accuracy of plus or minus 0.013 mm. Its surface can be finished to 0.5 micro metres and polished to a fineness of 0.013 micro metres.

This composite is chemically stable up to temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius and can operate to a maximum temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. Unlike metals and other ductile materials, it will not deform or creep. This makes it an excellent thermal insulator for use at a high voltage and over a very wide frequency spectrum. It has many applications, especially for prototypes in the aerospace and medical sectors.

The material’s uniformity is also a major advantage. Electrical signals transmitted along a circuit boards made of different substrates can arrive at any point out of phase and sometimes cancel each other out. The uniformity of Macor eliminates this disadvantage.

For more information about Macor or other machineable ceramics, browse our website to see our wide range of products.