What will PCB be Like in the Future

2019-11-28 14:22Writer: qyadminReading:

What is substrate-like pcb ?

 As the electronics devices are being miniaturized. things in world of PCBs are getting smaller. As the #PCB industry is heading towards smaller drill size.. finner line spaces, thinner laminates. and more number of PCB layers. there need for technology to take a step forward and explore PCBs to the next level. leading to the development of Substrate-Like PCBs (#SLP).
    #HDI PCBs having line-spacing of ~ 60µm used across applications. such as #Automotive, #Medical, #Consumer #Electronics, #Aerospace & #Defense and others. But, due to the tighter line spacing. required for applications in consumer electronics such as #Smartphones, #Fitnessbands. it gave rise to #SLP that uses semi-additive process (#SAP). or modified semi additive process (#mSAP) processes. The #SAP. and #mSAP technologies would help the PCB manufacturers. to achieve #line-spacings upto 30µm. HDI technology used #subtrative etch process while #SLP uses #additive etch process. With the use of additive process, it can help manufacturers to bridge the gap. between the substrate manufacturers and multi-layer PCB manufacturers.
      Currently SLPs used in #smartphones like #iPhoneX and #Samsung #Galaxy #S9. It expected that more smartphone manufacturers such as #Huawei, #LG, #Redmi. and others would adopt this technology. which will reduce the size of the substrate-PCB used in the current smartphone. by 25% to 30% thus increasing the battery and screen size.
      With the rising trends in technologies such as #IoT, #5G, #SmartCars. it required that the size of the PCB would miniaturized. and the the #substrates become much more powerful. Thus, we can see many more applications that will use SLPs at a massive scale. and bring the next revolution in the PCB and integrated circuit industry!
     The AT&S Toolbox uses technologies. such as insulated metallic substrate (IMS), multilayer, HDI, any-layer. wire-bond-board, flexible PCBs, chip embedding, IC substrates and interposers. For modern SIPs (systems in package). this means that conductor track widths/spacings of 15µm are possible. and less than 10µm for IC substrates. High-end systems such as advanced SIPs and SiBs (system in boards). can combined in modular form with all basic technologies. This makes optimized solutions available for customers and the specific applications.

substrate like pcb technology

     PCB as one of the main application market of copper foil, its influence is self-evident. Recently, according the market news, starting from the first quarter of 2017. PCB industry from upstream equipment factory, raw material factory to downstream production plant. all shows good performance in off-season. The main enjoy two aspects. on the one hand is the proportion of vehicle-mounted board increased, but. it said that in the second half year. Apple's new iPhone8 will use the smaller line width. line spacing Substrate-like PCB technology (Referred as aboutP). it will replace the previous HDI PCB technology. Substrate-like PCB is still a kind of rigid PCB. but it‘s production process is more close to semiconductor specifications. Currently. the Substrate-like PCB required line width/ line spacing is 30/30UM. but the manufacturing process. raw materials and design plan (one or more pieces) has not yet determined.
    It understood that from point view of the advantages. and disadvantages, the technology is the threshold. for high-end HDI manufacturers, yields may be lower. but the advantage is cost lower after use adjusted HDI equipment for production.  For IC Substrate-like PCB manufacturer. the advantage is the experience and technology, but cost is higher. such as KINSUS and so on. While the manufacturer has both capability of high-end HDI and IC loading boards both. in theory. it can adjust the balance of production capacity between HDI and loading board. but the production process there is still a challenge, Product portfolio. and capacity use should weighed. against the impact on the operating efficiency, like Unimicron.
       In the upstream equipment factory of PCB. due to the increased degree of automation production, in recent years. the expansion of Taiwan's PCB production line in mainland China seems stagnant. but including the expansion of HannStar Board Corporation and Hubei HuangShi. and the investment of Unimicron. coupled with China's local PCB plants such as . , Suntak and other enterprises to expand production capacity. all these bring new business opportunities for equipment factory,
       In the upstream raw materials market of PCB, in the fourth quarter of 2016, copper foil, glass fiber cloth. copper foil  increased with the international copper price. and copper processing costs, promoting excellent  business revenue of  major enterprise. price of product & corporate profits are higher. PCB factory rush to supplement raw materials. the original inventory replenishment efforts in the first quarter increased in 2017. such as during the Spring Festival holiday in Fulltech. it’s glass fiber cloth factory shortened holidays from 6 days to 2 days. to work overtime to meet the customer demands.
       From the view, Apple will launch the new iPhone 8, It expected to equipped with flexible OLED panels. dual cameras, Glass casing as well as power modules which support for fast charging. wireless charging, high-capacity battery. and through use OLED panel and Substrate-like PCB to reduce the thickness. the line width & line spacing. and area of Substrate-like PCB is more smaller, that can squeeze more space in the phone. the required line width& space of HDI PCB for smart phone is 50μm/50μm, but the Substrate-like PCB required 30μm/30μm. it can save more space for dual cameras. For the printed circuit board, driven by the demand of Apple and vehicle-mounted board in 2017. the Substrate-like PCB. and vehicle-mounted board will become the main two competition focus and hot spot. from each of the major manufacturers have increased capital expenditure. is enough to see the market demand for Substrate-like PCB. But, from the point of view of equipment and raw materials. it may not be able to meet the needs of the major substrate manufacturer in the short term

substrate like pcb process

        Future PCBs (printed circuit boards) won't develop without innovation. To estimate and expect the future of PCB fabrication technology. it's optimal to put in place a research on some great changes. occurring to electronics products. about PCB industry in recent years.
  SiP and SLP
  September of 2014 saw Apple's release of Watch S1. whose mother board takes advantage of SiP (system in package). that is different from any layer or high-level HDI (high density interconnect). Similar with S1, Watch S2 and S3 depend on SiP as well. When it comes to design parameters of specific PCB, layer count is 8; board thickness is 0.35mm. smallest trace/spacing is 0.02mm/0.02mm; the smallest pad size is 0.1mm. 
substrate like pcb
  Image cited from iDB.

  In 2017, Apple released iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus and iPhone X whose main processors, A11. relies on FOWLP (fan-out wafer-level packaging) technology. whose motherboard takes advantage of SLP (substrate like PCB). and whose trace first depends on MSAP (modified semi-additive process) technology.

  Thus, based on PCB design for Watch S1, iPhone 8. iPhone 8 plus and iPhone X. it can concluded. that high-level HDI is developing towards load board trend. HDI develop trend towards load board can be also indicated by Samsung electro-mechanics. on its introduction on HDI ultra-fine line technology that demonstrated as below. 
substrate like pcb



  September of 2016 saw Apple's release of iPhone 7 whose main processor A10. takes advantage of FOWLP technology that is also called InFOWLP technology. FOWLP used to replace PoP (package on package), which means that substrate. and package are no longer used.
  FOPLP, short for fan-out panel level packaging, refers to chip placement. on substrate to put in place RDL (redistribution layer) packaging. A traditional way depends on bump and chip package on strip-based substrate. Generally speaking, a panel composed by 8 to 10 strips. This is actually component embedment technology focused on. in previous part of this article. But in this process only active components participated.
  FOPLP and FOWLP are two different directions on how active components packaged. being a challenge to traditional packaging method. FOPLP belongs to board-level package and carried out on the whole loading board. while FOWLP belongs to wafer-level package and carried out on wafer.
  By the contrast analysis between SiP and SLP, FOWLP and FOPLP, it can concluded. that all the new technologies are both challenge and opportunity as far as HDI concerned. As far as substrate concerned, but, all the new technologies are challenges for it.
  Printed Electronics
  Printed electronics refers to electronics circuits combined by electronic components. and circuits based on all kinds of printed technologies. Because printed electronics technology features advantages including low cost, many deformation. easy production, easy integration and environmental protection. it has been receiving attention from a large scale. Due to limit technology, but, it hasn't produced in volume.
  Technologies contributing to printed electronics manufacturing include: stencil printing, flexible bump printing. flat printing, grooving printing. jet ink printing, mold printing, imaging printing and laser imaging.  About materials include substrate material (majority is organic thin film). function materials (that is, oil including conductor material, semiconductor material, insulating dielectric material).
  Because merits of printed electronics technologies are never avoided. it will bring forward more challenges to traditional PCB industry in the future.
  Based on the analysis implemented above. possible technology development trend of PCB will be:
  • HDI board loading (or SiP);
  • Substrate packaging (or moduling);
  • Printed electronics will become prevalent. 


substrate-like pcb demand looks promising

      The substrate-like-PCB market expected to grow at a CAGR of 12% during the forecast period 2019 - 2024. Owing to the rising adoption of substrate-like-PCB in OEMs. smart consumer electronics and wearable devices. there is a growth of the substrate-like-PCB market. The need for miniaturization and efficient interconnect solutions. is also contributing to substrate-like PCB market growth. At present market is dependent on high-end smartphone growth. For instance, Huawei started to produce substrate-like-PCB for the Premium phone P30 Pro. released in March 2019.
       Industry experts have identified an. increasing amount of focus on reducing the size of electronic packages. to reduce power consumption and boost functionality. All the miniaturized components need to arranged within a limited dimension. which is not workable in conventional printed circuit boards (PCBs). This limitation is driving the need for the substrate-like-PCB market.
      One of the key substrate like PCB market trends is the development of an advanced system. in package (SiP) modules. The application of SiP modules is increasing. due to benefits like bundling of communication units like Wi-Fi. modem, and Bluetooth in one package. SiP modules offer effective performance at a lower cost and are smaller in size. when compared to a set of individual modules. As a result, there will be a continuous increase in the use of SiP modules by OEMs.
With the rising trends in technologies such as IoT, 5G, smart cars. it required that the size of the PCB would miniaturized. and the substrates become much more powerful. Thus, substrate-like-PCB will used at a massive scale to support these technological trends.
But, the higher setup cost associated with substrate like PCB can hinder the growth of the market.
Scope of the Report
      Substrate-like-PCB (SLP) is a term that describes the transition of a PCB board into a product. with package substrate like features. Substrate-like-PCB use thin conductors/interconnectors which transfers signal. and power to all connected components and reduces power consumption. Moreover, substrate-like-PCB are more effective in circuit protection and heat dissipation. Substrate-like-PCB has reached line and space that is smaller than 30/30 mm. and substrate-like-PCB is a PCB that has the feature sizes close to that of an IC substrate. Substrate-like-PCB uses additive etch process and has many applications.


      What type of applications are discussing or adopting this new PCB technology? Applications that need thin copper, applications that concerned with space and weight. and applications that have complex pin-outs. pushing the capabilities of traditional PCB manufacturing are all ones. that could use SAP or mSAP technology.
One example is medical implantables using 20-micron trace and space technology, with a
double-sided design, on polyimide, with gold conductors. The combination of polyimide and gold is also compelling for biocompatibility reasons. Military/aerospace applications with highdensity interconnect designs requiring tight pin-outs now. have the option of finer lines and smaller vias. Following stack-up structures like the work done in the smartphone designs. success is being found by integrating layers with SAP technology. and layers with subtractive etch technology. reducing layer count and reducing costly lamination cycles.
      Wearable technology is another forerunner. SAP and mSAP enables thinner, lighter weight, more flexible circuity. all attributes catering to the wearable technology market.
Averatek’s ALD ink enables printing circuit patterns on rounded. or shaped structures, including 3D products. curved end of a catheter and others that
       the traditional subtractive etch processes have not been able to serve. This ALD ink has also found success in the emerging e-textiles market. Applying the ALD ink to various fabrics. and plating with electroless copper results in conductive material. that can then integrated in e-textiles applications. Both these application areas enable design development in growing markets. not served by PCB fabricators.
       Recapping, SAP, mSAP and SLP is a process that is currently serving the visible,
high-volume, smartphone market. The PCB industry world-wide is taking notice and looking. for other opportunities to put in place this technology. in designs with requirements for thin copper. sub 25-micron line and space and complex HDI designs. This is a new technology pushing fabricators to look at equipment. and processes to determine how to adapt from a subtractive. process to an additive process.
      This technology also pushes designers to look at printed circuits in a new way. and provides a new tool to solve complex design issues. pushing us outside of our comfort zone is a good thing, even though it is difficult. and the resulting more technical capabilities will propel us forward. to solve the sophisticated electronics requirements. Watch for information from SMTA of a new conference in 2019. “Additive Electronics: IC Scale to PCB Scale,” which intends to address the gap. between traditional subtractive etch processing and mSAP and SAP technology.
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