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Mining Laminates for the Latest Electronic Solutions

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by Alexander Ippich, Technical Director, Signal Integrity & Advanced Technology, Product Manager RF/Microwave, Isola

Alexander Ippich

They are the foundations for this modern electronic world: laminates and prepreg materials. From audio through optical wavelengths, and everything in-between, substrate materials provide building blocks for this modern electronic world. They are difference makers and often taken for granted in many electronic circuits. They can make a difference when a designer knows enough about them and how to make optimum use of them, such as the laminate and prepreg choices available from Isola Group.

Laminates are starting points for electronic circuits, roadways to hold signal and power pathways and interconnections between active and passive components. They consist  of electrical insulators and conductors of which printed circuit boards (PCBs) are formed. Modern PCB design trends require smaller circuits for more compact, portable electronic devices. But selecting the “perfect” laminate for a new PCB design is not simply about choosing the thinnest, or lightest, or lowest-cost material. A PCB substrate is a critical component with tremendous impact on any electronic design. The best choice of material depends on the application and knowing how a laminate’s properties will affect those applications. For example, the performance provided by a laminate for a simple wireless remote control may fall well short of the performance goals for a 5G cellphone.

This ongoing series from Isola Group will attempt to provide a simple, straightforward source of information on circuit laminates and prepregs and how to best apply them for different electronic products. In addition to differences among modern electronic circuit applications, each industry has its different requirements: circuit materials that perform well on the ground may not be the best choice at sea or in the air or even in space. By exploring the needs of different applications, and what those applications require in terms of circuit laminate and prepreg properties, selecting circuit materials for the next electronic design not only becomes less of a chore, but it also becomes more of a scientific process and a pleasure. No matter the goals, such as lower cost, higher performance, smaller size, even longer operating lifetime, there is a circuit material for that and knowing a little about available circuit materials can go a long way towards meeting those design goals.

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