Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Better circuit boards on the horizon

A project improved on processes for the design and manufacture of printed circuit boards. Outcomes can make electronics more efficient and give industry a competitive edge in Europe.
Better circuit boards on the horizon
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are invaluable for electronic devices that power our world, from aeroplanes and computers to lasers and elevators. These busy circuit boards generate a large amount of heat that is usually overcome by heat sinks (metal structures fixed on the board that dissipate the heat into the air).

The EU-funded project 'Low cost thermally sprayed and structured conductive layers for power electronic printed circuit boards' (Spraytec) designed an improved method for assembling PCBs in order to handle heat better and minimise the use of heat sinks. This aimed at the use of smaller modules on the board and improving functioning of PCBs.

Instead of gluing the different layers of the PCB together, the project developed thermal spraying technology to replace the gluing process, improve adhesive characteristics and speed up manufacturing. This lengthens the life of PCBs, renders them more cost effective and avoids the use of heat sinks altogether in some cases.

To achieve its aims, Spraytec employed sophisticated technology called atmospheric plasma spraying (APS) and high velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF). In addition, the project team amassed in-depth knowledge regarding this new PCB technology, especially with regards to layer thickness and porosity, as well as sealing of copper and ceramic layers.

Project results have the potential to be very useful for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and open up many business opportunities. This is particularly relevant for customers seeking PCBs with extra strength, high thermal conductivity and improved thermal shock resistance. The new PCBs will ensure the competitiveness of the European market and take circuit boards to a whole new level.

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