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Everything About Automotive PCB

PCBs are durable, non-conductive boards constructed on a substrate-based framework. The primary functions of PCBs are to support and connect electrical components in a circuit mechanically. They are widely found in electronic gadgets and are typically easily recognized as the green board. PCB is essential to the operation and efficiency of vehicle electronics. PCBs are found to enable a variety of functions, from infotainment and lighting to ADAS and engine systems. Automotive PCBs must meet strict criteria due to the challenging environment found behind the engine and the growing complexity of electronics.
 
FC is committed to driving innovation in the automotive industry by adopting advanced technology applications into production. We aim to meet the evolving needs of the industry and play a vital role in shaping the future of automotive technology and sustainability.
This blog will examine critical automobile PCB applications, essential design factors, and specific PCBs utilized in the automotive sector.

Understanding PCB in Automotive Applications

Reliability is crucial for printed circuit boards used in automobiles. They must withstand harsh environmental circumstances and vibrations without experiencing any performance setbacks. Before being considered, automotive PCBs must pass complex thermal cycle tests, thermal shock tests, and temperature and humidity tests.
 
Automotive printed circuit boards differ significantly from other printed circuit boards regarding heat resistance and service life. PCB makers must follow the ISO/TS 16949 standard, based on the ISO 9001 automotive standard.
FC considers all the required PCB standards to make your automotive PCB. Car charger circuit boards, car navigation circuit boards, car instrument circuit boards, and new energy car circuit boards are among the automotive PCB items.

Application of Automotive PCBs

The following aspects are the applications for automotive PCB boards:

Vehicle Electronics

The automobile has various electronic gadgets, including multimedia, onboard computers, and car audio. For these gadgets to function properly, they need reliable and efficient automotive PCB boards.

Car Navigation

Car navigation is a crucial component of the new wave of intelligent transportation. It can assist drivers in choosing the best route to avoid traffic jams and other problems. Automotive PCB boards are crucial for vehicle navigation, enhancing its functionality and precision.

Vehicle Safety

The sensors, controllers, and transmission devices are part of the automobile's safety system. Passenger safety requires a high level of dependability and safety from safety systems. For the system to function normally, automotive PCB boards must tolerate harsh working conditions like high or low temperatures and humidity.

Others

The other applications are battery management systems, vision processing units, traction controllers, radar PCBs, audio amplifiers, door control systems, lighting systems, etc.

Improvements in circuit board manufacturing processes and testing techniques can only enhance the automobiles’ reliability, stability, and safety. To meet the quality requirements of PCBA’s for automotive electronics, automotive-grade circuit boards usually need to meet the following industry standards:

IPC-6012E

This is the accepted standard for creating solid PCBA’s. Performance classifications and quality acceptance standards covering several types of circuit board architectures (e.g., single-sided, multilayer, embedded, and metal-core circuit boards) are defined from the end-user perspective.

IPC-6012 EA

For the automotive context, this standard specifies improvements to or substitutes for the specifications listed in IPC-6012. Objectives comprise criteria for bow and twist, visual inspection protocols, lifted land patterns, copper features, drill-hole patterns, and conductor testing.

IPC-65013e

Regarding the type of content, this standard is comparable to IPC-6012. However, the focus is on flex boards, which are increasingly used in automotive systems. Flex and rigid-flex PCBs are particularly useful in minimizing the quantity and length of cabling and cables needed for electric vehicles. Each of the five types of flex boards has requirements.
  • Single-sided–No PTHs–With or without stiffeners
  • Double-sided–PTHs–With or without stiffeners
  • Multilayer flex–PTHs–With or without stiffeners
  • Multilayer rigid/flex–PTHs
  • Multilayer rigid/flex–No PTHs

IATF 16949:2016

The purpose of this worldwide standard is to specify the specifications for a quality management system (QMS) that will guarantee the caliber of automotive system development through the supply chain. Document requirements, management requirements, process requirements, assessment, and improvement requirements are all included in the specifications.

AEC

Electronic components used in automobile systems must meet quality standards set by the AEC. Qualification and testing procedures for integrated circuits (ICs), discrete semiconductors, sensors, Multichip modules (MCMs), passive components, and lot testing are among the documents.

IPC-A-610

Most automotive PCB Assembly must be manufactured by the Level 2 or 3 performance classifications specified in IPC-A-610, Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies.

IPC-A-600G

This PCB industry standard covers requirements for their appearance, dimensions, layout, and surface characteristics. It applies to all types of printed circuit boards, including automotive printed circuit boards.

ISO 26262

This international standard focuses on functional safety in automobiles. It imposes strict safety requirements for automotive PCB design, manufacture, and application.

JESD22-A100

A standard for environmental stress testing of electronic components and modules, covering methods such as humidity, temperature, and vibration testing for evaluating the performance of automotive PCBs under different conditions.

IEC 61508

International standard for functional safety, widely applicable to automotive electronic systems. Safety considerations are required throughout the development and production phases of PCBs.
 

UL 94

This standard evaluates the flammability of plastic materials to ensure that materials used in automotive PCBs meet fire safety requirements.

RoHS

In automotive electronics, the RoHS standard prohibits using specified hazardous substances in PCBs to protect the environment and user health.
To improve automotive reliability, stability, and safety, FC strictly controls the quality of every step in the design, manufacturing, and testing of automotive circuit boards.

How is Automotive PCB Different from Standard PCB?

The differences between automotive PCB boards and standard PCB boards are as given below:
Automotive PCB
Standard PCB
It is used in automotive electronics, audio, multimedia, navigation, and other fields.
It is used in standard electronic circuits.
Automotive PCB boards are usually 0.6-3.2mm.
Standard PCB boards are generally 0.2-3.0mm.
It is more durable and stable.
It needs to be more durable and stable.
It reduces noise and interference in vehicle circuits.
It does not reduce noise and interference in vehicle circuits.
It resists high temperatures and high humidity.
It does not resist high temperatures and high humidity.
It provides safety and reliability of the circuit.
It does not offer the safety and reliability of the circuit.
It improves the working efficiency and performance of automotive circuits.
It does not improve the working efficiency and performance of circuits.

Types of Automotive PCB

There are different types of Automotive PCB. They are given below.

Rigid PCBs

It is a standard rigid PCB made of FR-4 glass epoxy. For thermal reliability, it includes more significant Tg variations, such as FR-4 High Temp. It contains no flame-retardant or halogen ingredients. It offers thermal management metal core boards.

Flexible PCBs

It is lighter compared to ordinary printed circuit boards and wire harnesses. Flexible printed circuit boards significantly reduce the labor required to manufacture traditional automotive wiring harnesses.  In addition, flex-printed circuit boards are ideally suited to the challenging conditions inside automobiles due to their inherent vibration resistance.

Rigid-Flex PCBs

Three-dimensional routing is made possible by the combination of rigid and flexible components. It connects several PCBs.

Metal Core PCBs

It is metal core PCBs or insulated metal substrate (IMS). It comes with a metal baseplate that aids in EMI shielding and heat dissipation.

HDI PCB

High-Density Interconnect Printed Circuit Boards (HDI PCBs) are high-tech printed circuit boards with ultra-high data transfer speeds and very low latency for handling high-speed data and complex control tasks.  High-density interconnect printed circuit boards are typically used for advanced assisted driving systems, automatic braking systems, and in-car entertainment systems.

High Frequency PCB

High-frequency PCBs are commonly used in automotive collision avoidance or predictive emergency braking systems that rely on PCBs to transmit microwave high-frequency signals. Polytetrafluoroethylene or hybrid ceramics are ideal for HF PCB materials, which feature low dielectric loss and can be used as high-frequency wave transmitters and receivers.

Ceramic PCB

The core of the ceramic substrate is made of aluminum nitride or alumina. It is characterized by good thermal conductivity and high-temperature resistance.

Benefits of Using PCB in Automotive

The benefits of using PCB in Automotive are as given below:
  • It ensures vehicle safety and performance.
  • It contributes to the proper functioning of various automotive electronics such as the engine control unit, anti-lock braking system, and airbag deployment system.
  • It ensures optimum functionality and reduces the risk of electrical malfunctions.
  • The programming ability of automotive printed circuit boards facilitates the repair of faulty components and problems.
  • It can be customized to enhance the work of audio, video, air conditioning, and mobile communication systems.
  • PCBs have been tuned to function well with car transmissions, particularly concerning fuel economy.
  • Faster repairs and fewer part replacements are consequently required when using automotive PCBs. Additionally, the reconfigurable design makes it easier to replicate repair methods or replace damaged pieces more quickly.
  • It assists in synchronizing the vehicle’s security optics, including radar monitoring, autonomous driving, and the ability to enable and operate automated avoidance.

Automotive PCB Challenges and Considerations

There are different challenges while designing the automotive PCB. They are listed below:
· There are high vibrations from engine and road noises.
· There is a shock from bumps and unequal road surfaces.
· The temperature range for PCB is from -40°C to 125°C.
· There is a switching noise from the motor and RF interference from transmitters.
– Electric vehicles have a DC bus voltage of up to 650V.
· There is a mixed signal circuit, i.e., a combination of sensitive analog and noisy digital circuits.

Automotive PCB Design Considerations

There are different factors to be considered when designing an automotive PCB. They are given below:
Grounding and filling
• There should be a low impedance with a continuous grounding area;
• Apply a thru-hole array to connect the filling wire terminals to the ground;
• Lines with copper coatings must be linked to the ground;
Inductor layout
• The maximum amount of inductor space is recommended;
• Right angles should be used for inductor alignment;
Through holes
 
• In sensitive areas, the inductance module should be configured for through holes;
• Independent through holes are necessary for the filter or matching network;
• The thinner the PCB copper, the less the effect of through-hole parasitic inductance;
Integrated grounding
• It is recommended to arrange integrated grounding beneath the leads;

Future development trends of automotive PCB boards

The future development trends of automotive PCB boards are:
 
  • Intelligent
In the future, automotive PCB boards will possess greater intelligence and be more precisely coupled to other technologies within the vehicle. To produce a smoother driving experience, a car’s PCB board might combine with the internal sensors of the vehicle to use artificial intelligence algorithms to alter the condition of all vehicle equipment.
 
  • Convenience
To improve the stability and reliability of automobiles, future automotive printed circuit boards will utilize more advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. This can lower running expenses and facilitate vehicle maintenance and repair.
 
  • Security
Automotive electronics have long placed a high priority on PCB board safety. To guarantee the safety of cars, future automotive PCB boards will give more significant consideration to the safety performance of car electronics.

Conclusion

PCBs are now essential in modern cars because of the revolution in electronics. Understanding signal integrity, reliable power distribution, temperature control, and mechanical dependability is vital to designing automotive PCBs. The PCB board of an automobile is a critical electrical component that needs to be highly stable, safe, and reliable. Automotive PCB boards may maximize the driving experience and performance of the car, in addition to enhancing the functionality and efficiency of automotive circuits. Vehicle PCBs will be more innovative, practical, and safer in the future, making travel safer and more convenient for individuals.

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