When designing a printed circuit board, selecting the right material is crucial for its performance and reliability.
Two of the most common materials used for PCBs are FR4 and G10, but what sets them apart?
This article will explore the differences between FR4 and G10 and how to choose the optimal material for your PCB based on your specific requirements.
The Right PCB Material is Vital for Superior Electronics Quality
The material used for a printed circuit board is critical in determining its performance and reliability.
The right PCB material is vital for superior electronics quality, ensuring that the board can withstand the harsh conditions of its operating environment and deliver consistent and stable performance.
Factors like electrical conductivity, thermal properties, mechanical strength, and chemical resistance all play a role in determining which PCB material is suitable for a particular application.
Therefore, choosing the optimal PCB material is essential to ensure the electronic product’s longevity, functionality, and quality.
What is FR4 in Circuit Boards?
FR4 is a widely used fiberglass-reinforced epoxy laminate material in printed circuit boards due to its excellent electrical insulation, mechanical strength, and dimensional stability.
It is a flame-retardant material that meets stringent safety standards and can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for harsh environments.
FR4 is also cost-effective, readily available, and easy to fabricate, making it a popular choice for PCB designers and manufacturers.
Its versatile properties and widespread use make it a reliable and trusted material for various electronic applications.
What is G10 in Circuit Boards?
G10 is a composite material commonly used in PCBs due to its excellent electrical insulation and mechanical strength.
It is made up of woven fiberglass impregnated with epoxy resin, which makes it resistant to moisture, chemicals, and high temperatures.
G10 also has exceptional mechanical properties and the ability to withstand harsh environments. Using G10 in PCBs helps ensure electronic systems’ longevity and reliability.
FR4 Features and Characteristics
The followings are the features and characteristics that make FR4 a reliable and trusted material for various electronic applications.
1. High Dielectric Strength
One of the outstanding features and characteristics of FR4 is its high dielectric strength, which is the ability of an insulating material. It is to resist electrical breakdown under voltage stress.
FR4’s high dielectric strength makes it an excellent material for high-voltage applications, such as power supplies, inverters, and motor controllers, where electrical insulation is crucial.
The material’s high dielectric strength also helps to reduce the risk of electrical arcing, which can damage the board or cause a safety hazard.
The combination of FR4’s high dielectric strength and other properties, such as mechanical strength and thermal stability, makes it a versatile and reliable choice for various electronic applications.
2. High Strength-to-Weight Ratio
Another notable feature and characteristic of FR4 is its high strength-to-weight ratio, which means it is both strong and lightweight.
FR4’s fiberglass reinforcement provides the material with excellent mechanical strength, while the epoxy resin adds structural rigidity and dimensional stability.
Despite its lightweight properties, FR4 can withstand significant stress and strain, making it a durable and reliable choice for printed circuit boards.
FR4’s lightweight characteristics make it easy to handle, transport, and install.
The combination of FR4’s lightweight properties with its other features and characteristics, such as its high dielectric strength and chemical resistance, make it a versatile and widely used material for various electronic applications.
4. Resistant to Moisture
FR4 is a moisture-resistant material commonly used in PCBs due to its excellent electrical insulation and mechanical strength, even in humid environments.
The material’s epoxy resin and fiberglass reinforcement provide high moisture resistance. It is ideal for applications where the PCB is exposed to moisture or other environmental contaminants.
FR4’s resistance to moisture helps to prevent the degradation of the PCB’s electrical performance, ensuring that the electronic components operate reliably and consistently.
FR4 is a fire-retardant material with low flammability and is resistant to burning.
This feature is crucial for electronic applications where fire safety is a primary concern, such as building infrastructure, transportation, and aerospace industries.
The material’s flame-retardant properties help to prevent the spread of fire, ensuring that electronic equipment operates safely in high-risk environments.
FR4’s fire-retardant properties are due to halogenated additives, which can release gases that suppress flames in the event of a fire.
6. Higher Tensile Strength than G10
FR4 is a material that offers higher tensile strength than G10. It can withstand greater stretching or pulling forces without breaking or deforming. This property makes FR4 ideal for applications where the PCB will be exposed to high mechanical stresses.
7. Dielectric Breakdown of 65.0kV/54.0kV
Dielectric strength measures the material’s ability to resist electrical breakdown under an applied voltage.
The dielectric breakdown of FR4 is typically around 65.0kV/54.0kV, which means that it can withstand high voltages without breaking down and causing electrical shorts.
This property makes FR4 ideal for high-voltage applications, such as power supplies, transformers, and other electrical equipment requiring high insulation resistance.
8. Has Arc Resistance of 100 Seconds
FR4 is a material that offers excellent arc resistance, which measures the material’s ability to resist the formation of an electric arc under high voltage and current conditions.
The arc resistance of FR4 is typically around 100 seconds, which means it can withstand high-voltage electrical discharges without breaking down or causing electrical shorts.
FR4’s excellent arc resistance is due to the material’s combination of high dielectric strength and good electrical insulation properties, which help to prevent the formation of electric arcs.
G10 Features and Characteristics
Like FR4, G10 also has features and characteristics that make it a good printed circuit material:
1. Acid and Alkali Corrosion Resistance
This property makes G10 ideal for use in harsh environments where the PCBs may be exposed to chemicals, such as in the chemical processing industry.
The corrosion resistance of G10 is due to its composition, which includes a high percentage of epoxy resin.
Epoxy is a highly resistant material that can withstand exposure to acids and alkalis, making G10 an excellent choice for electronic components that require protection from chemical damage.
2. Wear Resistance
Another key feature of G10 is its excellent wear resistance, which measures the material’s ability to withstand damage caused by abrasion or friction.
G10’s wear resistance is due to its high strength and rigidity, allowing it to withstand mechanical stress without breaking or degrading.
This property makes G10 ideal for applications where the PCBs may be subjected to frequent handling or mechanical stress, such as manufacturing industrial equipment or consumer electronics.
One of the key features of G10 is its lightweight nature, which makes it a suitable material for electronic components that require low weight, such as in aerospace and automotive applications.
G10’s lightweight property is due to its composition, which includes layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin that are lightweight but strong.
Compared to FR4, G10 has a lower density and is lighter weight, making it a suitable alternative for applications requiring lightweight PCBs.
4. Hard Material
Another key feature of G10 is its hardness, which measures the material’s resistance to surface indentation or abrasion.
G10’s hardness is due to the material’s high strength and rigidity, allowing it to withstand mechanical stress without degrading.
5. Higher Compressive Strength than FR4
Compressive strength measures a material’s ability to withstand forces that try to squeeze or crush it.
G10’s high compressive strength is due to the layered structure of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin, which makes it a suitable material for applications that require high resistance to compression forces.
Compared to FR4, G10 has a higher compressive strength, but FR4 has a higher tensile strength and better resistance to moisture and fire.
6. Lower CTE than FR4
G10 also has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) than FR4. This measures how much a material expands or contracts when subjected to temperature changes.
G10’s low CTE makes it suitable for applications requiring PCBs to maintain dimensional stability over a wide temperature range. CTE is less likely to expand or contract when subjected to temperature changes.
7. Dielectric Breakdown of 48.0kV/49.0kV
Another feature of G10 is its high dielectric strength. Dielectric strength measures the maximum voltage a material can withstand without breaking down or conducting electricity.
G10 has a dielectric breakdown of 48.0kV/49.0kV, making it an ideal material for applications that require high insulation properties.
8. Arc Resistance of 120 seconds
Arc resistance is the ability of a material to resist electrical arcing or tracking, which can occur when voltage is applied to the material.
G10 has a high arc resistance of 120 seconds, making it an ideal material for applications that require high electrical insulation properties.
This property makes G10 suitable for high-voltage components like switches and transformers.
Compared to FR4, G10 has a higher arc resistance, but FR4 has better resistance to moisture and fire, a higher tensile strength, and is more commonly used in PCBs.
FR4 and G10 Industry Applications
FR4 and G10 are widely used in the electronics industry due to their excellent mechanical and electrical properties.
Both FR4 and G10 are versatile materials that have numerous applications in various industries like the following:
FR4 and G10
When to Use FR4?
FR4 is ideal for applications requiring high strength, good dimensional stability, and excellent electrical insulation properties.
It is widely used in the electronics industry, specifically for printed circuit board manufacturing, due to its ability to withstand high temperatures. It can also resist moisture, making it an ideal material for harsh environments.
FR4 is also lightweight, making it suitable for applications where weight is considered.
Used in electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and medical equipment, as well as in the automotive and aerospace industries, for parts that require high strength and durability.
When to Use G10?
G10 is a suitable material for applications that require high mechanical strength and dimensional stability. Its hardness and wear resistance make it an excellent choice for manufacturing gears, bearings, and other mechanical components.
Additionally, G10’s excellent resistance to acid and alkali corrosion makes it an ideal choice in chemical processing and laboratory environments.
G10’s low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) also makes it suitable for applications where temperature changes are frequent. Its lower compressive strength compared to FR4 makes it a good choice for applications that require impact resistance.
G10 is commonly used in the aerospace, automotive, and electronics industries, as well as for knife handles and other outdoor gear, due to its strength and durability.
Why is FR-4 Preferred PCB Material to G10?
FR-4 is a preferred PCB material over G10 due to its superior electrical properties. This includes higher dielectric strength, lower dissipation factor, and better electrical insulation.
FR-4 also has a higher tensile strength than G10 and is more moisture-resistant, making it ideal for humid environments.
FR-4 has better fire-retardant properties than G10, making it a safer option for heat and flame resistance applications.
While G10 has advantages, FR-4’s superior electrical and mechanical properties make it a popular choice for most PCB applications.
In conclusion, both FR4 and G10 are high-quality materials for PCBs. Their unique features and characteristics make them suitable for various applications.
While G10 is a hard and wear-resistant material. FR4 offers superior electrical and mechanical properties, such as high dielectric strength, better insulation, and resistance to moisture and fire.
The choice between the FR4 vs. G10 ultimately depends on the requirements of the application at hand. Careful consideration of the trade-offs between their different characteristics should be made to determine which material is the best fit.