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5G- PCB Manufacturing Is Facing New Challenges

5G technology 1

5G- PCB Manufacturing Is Facing New Challenges

Since the introduction of the 5G concept,the research and development of related technologies and industrial layout in various countries have been in full swing.At the same time,my country’s 5G is gradually becoming a global leader in standard research and development.

 The issuance of licenses exceeded expectations and 5G launched the commercial starting gun ahead of schedule,accelerating the maturity of the industry chain.

5G Communication Challenges to PCB Technology

5G communication is a huge and complex integrated technology.Its challenges to the PCB process mainly focus on:large size,high multilayer,high frequency,high speed and low loss,high density,rigid-flex combination,high and low frequency mixed pressure,etc. 

So many process technologies put forward new or higher requirements on PCB materials,design,processing,and quality control. PCB companies need to understand the changing needs and propose comprehensive solutions.

In terms of high-speed materials,many pcb manufacturers believes that 400G products need to use materials equivalent to M7N and MW4000.In the backplane design,M7N is already the lowest loss option.

In the future,backplanes/optical modules with larger capacity will require lower loss materials.The combination of resin, copper foil,and glass cloth will achieve the best balance between electrical performance and cost.In addition,the number of high-levels and high density will also bring reliability challenges.

Requirements for Process Technology

The enhancement of 5G-related application product functions will increase the demand for high-density PCBs,and HDI will also become an important technical field.Multi-level HDI products and even products with any level of interconnection will become popular.And new technologies such as buried resistance and buried capacitance will also have more and more applications.

  • PCB copper thickness uniformity
  • Line width accuracy
  • Interlayer alignment
  • Interlayer dielectric thickness
  • Control accuracy of back drilling depth
  • Plasma de-drilling ability are all worthy of in-depth study.

Requirements for Equipment and Instruments

High-precision equipment and pre-processing lines with less roughening of the copper surface are currently ideal processing equipment.And the test equipment includes:

  • Passive intermodulation testers
  • Flying probe impedance testers
  • Loss Test equipment, etc.

Sophisticated graphics transfer and vacuum etching equipment can monitor and feedback data changes in real-time line width and coupling distance detection equipment.Electroplating equipment with good uniformity and high-precision lamination equipment can also meet 5G PCB production needs.

Requirements for Quality Monitoring

Due to the increase of 5G signal rate,the board-making deviation has a greater impact on signal performance.It requires stricter control of the board-making production deviation,while the existing mainstream board-making process and equipment are not updated.

 It Will become the bottleneck of future technological development.It is very important for PCB manufacturers to break the situation.

How to Control the Cost of 5G

For any new technology,the cost of its initial research and development is huge,and 5G communication has not yet been launched.”High investment, high return, and high risk” have become the consensus of the industry.How to balance the input-output ratio of new technologies?Local PCB companies have their own abilities in cost control.

There are two ways of cost management.One way is to balance costs through the increase of production scale and capacity,which will form some large-scale production enterprises.The other way is for PCB production enterprises that rapidly develop and deliver products.

Design and development are more flexible,so as to cope with the pressure of fast delivery brought by the shortened product cycle.

The most important thing to reduce costs and increase efficiency is to start from the source.At the first stage of PCB engineering design,it is necessary to optimize the design around cost,and convene a cross-departmental team to conduct a special cost review.

Through the early participation of procurement,production and process departments in the engineering stage,changes are proposed.More cost reduction design.For example,it is possible to increase the utilization rate by customizing the plate size and combining products with:

  • Similar process flow
  • Increasing the size of the production plate
  • Optimizing the laminated structure to reduce the cost of the plate.

Manufacturing PCB in a Smarter and Environmentally Friendly Environment

It cannot be denied that PCB is a high-tech industry.But due to the etching and other processes included in the PCB manufacturing process,PCB companies are unknowingly misunderstood as “big polluters”,”big energy users” and “big water users”. 

Today,where environmental protection and sustainable development are highly valued,once PCB companies are put on the “pollution hat”,it will be difficult,not to mention the development of 5G technology. Therefore,Chinese PCB companies have built green factories and smart factories.

In terms of smart factories,due to the complexity of PCB processing procedures and many types of equipment and brands,there is great resistance to the full realization of factory intelligence. 

At present,the level of intelligence in some newly-built factories are relatively high.And the per capita output value of some advanced and newly-built smart factories in China can reach more than 3 to 4 times the industry average. 

But others are the transformation and upgrading of old factories.Different communication protocols are involved between different equipment and between new and old equipment,and the progress of intelligent transformation is slow.

5G Fast Lane Product Development

The issuance of 5G commercial licenses has driven the entire 5G industry chain into the fast lane of development.And promoted substantial growth in market demand including:

  • Chips
  • Devices
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Transmission
  • Networks, and terminals.

In particular,the acceleration of the construction of communication facilities such as:

  • Antennas
  • Base stations

And radio frequency modules upstream of the industrial chain has driven the demand for communication materials required for 5G communication equipment to increase significantly.And the volume and price of high-frequency and high-speed PCBs have increased.

However, in the 5G era,the requirements for high transmission and high performance have doubled. And higher requirements have been placed on the design,raw materials,specifications,and manufacturing processes of high-frequency and high-speed PCBs.PCB manufacturers are also facing the first share of the 5G market dividend with more challenges.

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