What is Standard PCB Thickness?
A standard refers to something that’s accepted as average or normal, which means it serves as a reference for similar items to be judged. For instance, the Apple was considered the gold standard in the cellphone industry for a very long time and it still holds that place for many people.
Standard can also refer to size. For example, the standard width of refrigerators is between 24 and 40 inches. When you’re looking at the dimensions of an object, the standard is an essential factor because it determines the functions and qualities the product should have.
If we want to focus on circuit boards, PCB thickness is an essential standard to keep in mind. Something to keep in mind about this though, is that there’s no official standard. However, there are common sizes that are considered the standard because they are the preferred option and commonly stocked.
In most scenarios, your contract manufacturer will advise you to stick to one of those preferred PCB thickness standards so your design can be tailored to the capabilities of the equipment you’re using and also to reduce costs and turnaround time for the boards.
Today, we want to discuss standard PCB thicknesses and give you a clear idea of how to spec it. We will also discuss what needs to be considered when choosing between standard spec and non-standard spec because it’s a critical design choice.
Defining Standard PCB Thickness
Most contract manufacturers would say that the standard PCB thickness is 1.57 millimeters or roughly 0.062 inches. That is sort of correct but also sort of wrong. 0.062 inches was the size of the bakelite sheets that used to be manufactured in the early days of PCB fabrication so that’s the size that has referenced for decades. Really, it is just the historical standard.
Nowadays, boards can be made larger or smaller than that PCB thickness standard. However, that standard continues to be the most commonly used option for most designs. To be more accurate, the current standard exists on a range. There are three common standard PCB thicknesses; 0.78 millimeters or 0.03 inches, 1.57 millimeters or 0.062 inches, and 2.36 millimeters or 0.093 inches.
The process of determining the right PCB thickness consists of considering a variety of design and manufacturing factors. On the one hand, the design factors that need to be considered are:
- The material of the boards.
- The number of PCB layers.
- The thickness of the copper.
- The operating environment.
- Types of signals.
- Types of vias.
On the other hand, here are the manufacturing factors that can’t be overlooked to determine the appropriate PCB thickness:
- The thickness of the copper.
- The number of layers.
- Drill hole equipment.
- Method of depanelization.
Can I Get A Custom Thickness?
PCBs are made in panels or sheets that come in common sizes. This means they are manufactured in standard sizes, which is why your fabrication shop will already have them in stock or will be able to get them very quickly.
There may be other sizes available, but they will be limited by the equipment processing capabilities of your contract manufacturer, and ordering custom PCB thickness will also create a delay.
So, yes, you can have a custom PCB thickness but it will depend on your contract manufacturer and you should expect a delay because procuring these custom sheets or panels will take extra time.
This is something you keep in mind if your design requires uncommon PCB thickness. Additionally, there are other factors you must consider if you want a custom PCB thickness and we will explore them in the following section.
Factors You Should Consider When Ordering Custom Thickness
- The Equipment Capabilities of Your Contract Manufacture
This is the most important factor to consider. You need to make sure your fabrication shop has the appropriate equipment to manufacture the PCB thickness you’re looking for. This must be determined in the early stages of the design process along with other important design decisions or else you will have to modify and redesign your entire PCB layout.
- Longer Turnaround Time
Whenever an uncommon PCB thickness is required, the turnaround time will be extended because it will take more time to get the panels ready. This should be considered right from the jump because it can impact the prototyping stage and mess up your schedule.
- Greater Cost
As is often the case with customized items, specifying a custom PCB thickness may cost extra because it may require special materials, more labor and man-hours, and manufacturing. This is something you have to evaluate from the beginning to decide if you can afford the additional costs or not.
In some cases, the standard PCB thickness is the best option, but in other cases, a custom PCB thickness will make more sense. That means the choice is ultimately in your hands. Using standard PCB thickness will help you keep your costs down and it will provide faster turnaround times. If you do decide to go for a custom PCB thickness, you have to make sure to find the right fab shop with the right equipment.
You will be happy to know Vinatronic a network of PCB fabrication shops across the world that can fit with whatever your project requirements may be. Every shop has numerous quality certifications, a wealth of knowledge, and top of the line equipment. We will be able to follow your guidelines and get your boards built right the first time.
We do all our PCB assembly in house. All our components are sourced from reputable suppliers to reduce turnaround time and we emphasize DFM so you don’t have to waste time on back-and-forth corrections to the design. We also provide full support during the entire process, starting with design which allows us to create a smooth transition from the prototype stage to production.
We are known for providing fast, high-quality PCB manufacturing that will fulfill all your needs. Unlike other companies, we take the time to understand your design and goals so we can help you choose between standard or custom PCB thickness.
Either way, we will provide exactly what you need! If you need more information, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will help you make the right choice.