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Aerospace and aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries, owing to the increasing air travel. The air travel is set to increase in years to come because it helps users save on their traveling time. This means the demand for PCBs to be used in aerospace and aviation applications will increase. These PCBs have special requirements than regular consumer or industrial electronics. The applications utilizing these PCBs are subjected to high temperature and harsh environmental conditions, which may limit their service life. Thus, electronics engineers designing aerospace and aviation PCBs need to keep several things in mind while designing them. What are these guidelines? There are several of them; however, this post focuses on some important guidelines PCB designers for aerospace and aviation PCBs need to follow strictly.
What Are the Conditions Aerospace PCBs Are Exposed to?
Aerospace and aviation PCBs are exposed to a variety of environmental conditions, including the following:
Aviation and aerospace PCBs may be exposed to temperatures as low as 150 degrees Celsius.
PCBs may be exposed to excessive vibrations and shocks in outer space.
In aviation, various radio signals are used to communicate messages.
There is a high level of radiations in outer space, and a PCB-driven device exposed to them for a long time will fail to perform.
Important Factors to Consider When Designing PCBs for Aerospace and Aviation Applications
This is one of the important requirements for all types of PCBs. The current carrying capacity of any PCB depends on the copper thickness. Aerospace and aviation PCBs require heavy copper weights up to 2 Oz or above. These heavy copper weights assure better heat dissipation than thinner weights. Most manufacturers use several thermal vias as well as chassis to dissipate the heat, along with heavy copper concentrations. Better thermal management is a key to the performance of an aircraft or a satellite. Thus, manufacturers utilize the natural cooling and heating properties of copper to their advantage to achieve better thermal capabilities.
Like any other industrial electronics, aircraft and satellite applications may require rigid-flex, rigid, and flexible PCBs. However, the only difference here is the choice of material. Most industrial electronics are made of FR4 material, whereas aerospace PCBs are made of polyimide material. This material is lightweight, and ensures better flexibility, high durability, and heat dissipation capabilities. Their heat resistance capability also makes them an ideal choice for military PCBs. Today, it is easy to find polyimide material in different configurations to meet your application requirements. Many companies like Rogers are nowadays providing much better materials that are reliable, durable, and available at affordable price points. Many aviation and aerospace PCB manufacturers also use anodized aluminum that can eliminate problems caused due to heat.
Is this all? No, there a few more factors designers and manufacturers have to follow when designing PCBs for aerospace and aviation applications. These factors will be discussed in detail in the next post.