What Is The Difference Between Printed Circuit Board And IC Substrates?(Ultimate Guide In 2021)

There are different characteristics of an integrated circuit (IC) substrates such as advantages of being smaller in size, lighter in weight, less soldered joints and lead wires, durable, reliable, better in performance, and long lasting etc.

Furthermore, ICs are offering lower costs facilities and mass production.

ICs are not merely utilized in civilian and industrial electrical and electronic equipment e.g., cassette recorders, computer, and televisions but are also used in space, remote controlled equipment, communication, and military applications as well.

Using ICs for the assembly process of electrical and electronics equipment will result in increasing the assembly density through several thousand times when compared to conventional transistors with stable working and improved efficiency.

The major difference among printed circuit board (PCB) and IC is that ICs are generally referring to as the chip’s integration such as the chips on motherboard of computers.

The central processing unit can also be known as an IC and its original name is also referred to as integrated block. The PCB is referring to the board on to which different components are soldered making a working device.

The ICs are being soldered on to PCBs. PCBs are now found in almost every electronic device either small or big.

If any component has an electronic part, it is anticipated that it must have PCB of different size and attributes.

Apart from fixing different parts together, PCB also serves the purpose of electrically connecting different parts of the equipment.

What is Printed Circuit Board Prototype?

The prototype of printed circuit board is composed of different step and processes. Following is the detail of PCB prototype procedure.

  1. Pattern and Wiring: Wiring tool is for conduction of different components. A big portion of copper is allocated for power and grounding purposes. The pattern and wiring are both made at same time.
  2. Dielectric: Dielectric is better known as substrate and is utilized for maintenance of isolation among layers and wirings.
  3. Via or Through holeVias are for making a connection among two different layers for switching on each other. The bigger vias are utilized as part plugins while the other known as non-plating through hole is utilized for fixing screws and positioning of surface mounting for process of assembly.
  4. Solder Mask: All of the copper surfaces are not welded with tin. Hence, in surroundings with no tin, certain material is printed for avoiding short circuiting. The solder mask is divided in different colors depending on the process under consideration. The common colors of solder mask are blue, red, and green.
  5. Silk Screen: The main function of silkscreen is marking position frame and name of every part in order to make it easy for maintenance and assembly process identification.
  6. Surface Finishing: Oxidization of copper surface is very easy in general environment which is leading to poor quality of soldering. Therefore, protection of copper is of great importance. Surface finishing is the process of protecting copper surface through immersion Tin, ENIG, HASL, and immersion silver etc.
  7. Density: The development of PCB’s density has been achieved decades ago through development of circuit integration and implementation of new technologies in processes.
  8. Reliability: Different inspections, aging tests, and performance tests are making PCBs more reliable. The reliability period increases for over 20 years.
  9. Design: Based on performance requirements of the PCBs such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, and physical performances, design of PCB is standardized now with higher efficiency and lower time constraints.
  10. Production: The product’s quality and consistency are ensured by modern management through automation, scaling, and standardization.
  11. TestingDifferent testing methods and standards are established for testing of different instruments, equipment, and components used for PCB production.
  12. Assembly: The assembly process of PCB products is very easy and components have been standardized for it. The process of assembly is based on high standards for quality enhancement.
  13. Maintenance: As already mentioned all of the components and processes of PCB manufacturing are standardized. Therefore, any component failure in a PCB can be quickly replaced and system recovery is ensured.

What is IC Substrate?

The IC is an electronic device of micro scale. Different components such as inductor, capacitor, resistor, and diode are interlinked together through a process and then fabricated chip of semiconductor also known as substrate and then encapsulated within a shell to form a micro structure having all functions working together uniformly.

The components within IC are integrated together. The following are major features of an IC.

IC Substrates

IC Substates

  1. Small Circuit: As an IC is integrated circuit; therefore, its design, installation, and debugging processes are simple and uniform.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: When compared to that of discrete components, the circuit performance of IC is very high and pricing is also low.
  3. Reliability: The ICs are highly reliable with improvements in reliability of the entire circuit and performance along with consistency. The soldering joints are reduced to a greater extent in ICs and virtual welding is also reduced making the IC overall more reliable.
  4. Energy Efficient: ICs have an advantage of being energy efficient. ICs consume less power, have smaller volume, and low price. Ordinary circuits with same features consume more power than ICs.
  5. Lower Failure: ICs have a lower failure rate than ordinary circuits.

It can be stated that ICs have many advantages over ordinary discrete electronic circuits.

For example, small size, low weight, less wiring, less or no welding joints, durable, long lasting, reliable, and less expensive. All such advantages make ICs best suited for mass production.

What is substrate like PCB?

Substrate like PCB which is also known as SLP PCB is considered as the next generation PCB with higher density which is requiring spacing/traces equivalent or lesser than 30/30 micrometers in order to reduce the size to further level and getting more space for mounting other components.

Such a PCB is known as the substrate PCB because of its close behavior and look to an integrated circuit board.

IC board can be defined as the advanced circuit board having a chip with different circuitry inside for connection with motherboard, regular spacing and tracing with 15/15 micrometers for packaging.

However, the substrate PCB has not yet excelled to the level of an IC board and is yet equipped with passive and active components and none of the SLP boards is yet considered as PCB.

What are the Types of ICs?

The following are some major types of integrated circuit explained in details.

  1. Package based Classification
  • BGA IC Substrate: Such ICs are best suited to be operated in thermal dissipation. Its electrical performance is exceptionally good and it may dramatically increase the pins on chip. Hence, such ICs are considered best for IC packaging with more than 300 pins.
  • CSP IC Substrate:Such an IC is formed of a single packaged chip and is light in weight, scaled miniaturized, and is offering almost same features as an IC. Such IC substrates are commonly utilized in products with memory such as in telecommunication industry and electronics where a smaller number of pins are required on chip.
  • FC IC Substrate: Flip Chip or FC IC is a type of packaging through acquired through flipping chip which is featuring lower signal interference ratio, lower losses in circuit, higher performance, and efficient thermal dissipation.
  • MCM IC Substrate:Multi chip module or MCM IC substrate is a kind of IC which is integrating a chip with numerous kinds of functions on to a single package. This is resulting the product to be optimal in performance because of its various attributes like miniaturization, shortness, thinness, and lightness etc. As many chips are being packaged over a single package; hence, this type of substrate is not performing efficiently for signal interference, routing, and thermal dissipation.
  1. Material based Classification  
  • Rigid IC Substrate: Such type of IC is made through epoxy resin, ABF resin, and/or BT resin. The coefficient of thermal expansion of such IC is in between 13 to 17 ppm per degree Celsius.
  • Flex IC Substrate: Such an IC is made through PE or PI resin and has coefficient of thermal expansion in between 13 to 27 ppm per degree Celsius.
  • Ceramic IC Substrate: Such IC is fundamentally manufactured by ceramic material like silicon carbide, aluminum nitride, and aluminum oxide etc. It bears a lower coefficient of thermal expansion which is around 6 to 8 ppm per degree Celsius.
  1. Bonding Technology based Classification

The following is major classification based on bonding technology.

  • Wire bonding.
  • FC bonding.
  • Tape automated bonding.

IC Substrates

IC Substrates

What are the Applications of IC Substrate PCB?

There are numerous applications of IC substrate PCB. Such PCBs are mostly applied over the electronic products which are light in weight, thin, and have advanced functions.

These PCBs are best suited to be used in smart phones, tablet PCs, laptops, and for networking applications in telecommunications field, military, aerospace, industrial control, and medical care etc.

How to Manufacture of IC Substrate PCB?

The IC substrate is serving as the main connection among PCB and IC chip via network of conductive holes and traces.

The IC substrates have various critical functions comprising of protection and circuit support, power distribution, signal distribution, and heat dissipation.

The IC substrates are representing higher miniaturization level of PCBs manufacturing process and is also sharing numerous similarities along with process of manufacturing of semiconductors.

The IC substrate is usually a very thin layer which is easy to be deformed, specifically bulging when board is having no more than 0.2mm thickness.

For overcoming such a difficulty, different breakthroughs are to be made when it comes to shrinking of board, system of layer positioning, and lamination parameters etc. so that warpage of substrate and thickness of lamination could be controlled effectively.

The phenomenon of manufacturing of IC substrate PCB comprises of various steps; however following step are critical and difficult to follow.

  1. Copper Plating and Patterning: The copper plating technology and patterning is correlated with different technological aspects such as control and circuit compensation technology, uniform control for thickness of copper plating, and fine line fabrication technology.
  2. Solder Mask: The soldering mask for the IC substrate printed circuit board is consisting of solder mask printing and hole filling technologies. Till date, IC substrate printed circuit boards have allowed lesser than 10 micrometers of substrate height difference among pad and solder mask and is not recommended to be more than 15 micrometers at all.
  3. Surface Finishing: For the IC substrate printed circuit boards, surface finishing is emphasized for having uniform thickness. Till date, surface finishing with ENIG and ENEPIG are considered as acceptable.
  4. Reliability and Inspection Tests: The inspection and reliability testing equipment used for IC substrate printed circuit boards is very different than ordinary PCBs. The design engineers must be capable of having mastered skills for inspection of the PCBs through dedicated modern equipment.




The integrated circuits can be termed as miniaturized electronic circuits. The chips inside the ICs are very small and hence are very difficult to be connected to PCBs directly. However, connection of ICs to PCBs is very easy.

The PCBs are used in almost every electronic device. Hence, a device having an electronic part, there are higher chances that device has PCB with components mounted on it.

PCB is also connected different parts of an equipment apart from holding all components on to a single board. Whereas, ICs are soldered on to PCBs. It can be stated that IC is an integrated circuit on a chip and is a circuit as a whole.

If IC gets damaged, the entire chip is required to be changed. The basic aim of PCB is connecting IC along with other components forming a huge circuit performing a specific function uniformly. PCB has soldered components on to it.

When certain component breaks down, it may be replaced instead of replacing entire circuit as in case of an IC.

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