PCB is the backbone of every electronic product that defines the behaviour and properties of a device. This backbone is densely packed with components and traces that transport electrical signals (both digital and analogue), generating heat due to resistance. In this Electronics manufacturing industry, You may see this heat in every modern device, including your smartphones and laptops. You'll probably refer to it as the battery heating up. Actually, no! It's the PCBs' heating up which is why the issue is more crucial: the power electronic components like IGBT, BGA, MOSFET, and converters create hotspots on the PCB.
These heat generation sources adversely affect PCB performance and efficiency because they eventually damage the chemical or physical characteristics of components. The design part that deals with maintaining temperature are called thermal management. Design methods and additional hardware integration are examples of heat management techniques. But first, let me explain why you should invest in thermal management.
Any component can degrade fast as a direct result of overheating. The small-size electronic device design needs components and a PCB to be small in size. That is indeed a limited area to dissipate heat. As a result, most heat drains away from the board and through the components themselves, and heat may hold on to the components due to continuous usage. This will lead to slight deformation, probably enlarging the component internals, thus losing physical and electronic properties. Even slight deformations have a negative impact on the internal performance of components. A 20°C increase in operating temperature reduces the component's life duration by half. Overheating can result in component and board burnout, leading to total device failure. Thermal management aids in selecting appropriate components and their placement so that less heat accumulates in them; this must be done during the PCB manufacturing and designing process.
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Heating reduces the PCB Manufacturing performance.
Component degeneration will be visible with the naked eye, but performance decrease due to overheating will not be. Working over the rated operating temperature of any silicon-based components may affect the performance of the PCB. Overheating can cause traces, components, soldering integrity, and layer lamination to deteriorate. These will slow down signal transmission and shorten the board's life. Heat will also harm the structure of the internal components, reducing their functioning. Thermal management depicts a design strategy that ensures low heat dissipation in signal transmission or cooling facilities. To prevent hardware integrity issues, scanning and testing should be done during the PCB manufacturing phase.
Reduce the chance of withstanding harsh conditions
If the device overheats, its lifespan in tough working conditions will be compromised. PCB must meet specified grade certifications for harsh applications. Each PCB grade includes temperature ranges that allow it to tolerate associated conditions. To sustain the relevant temperature range, only thermal management can save.
Read: Role Of PCB Testing That Will Ensure Great Electronic Product Quality
Last but not least! Overheating might affect users' experience with the electrical device, and even they might question the product's reliability, even though heating to an extent is normal for electronic devices. For example, people always try to avoid overheating smartphones since using them for longer is not suitable for ear and skin contact.
Only proper thermal management from the PCB designing phase itself can save the PCB from overheating and all related issues mentioned above. The selection of the PCB Manufacturing process, testing, and inspection procedures must always be in accordance with thermal management standards. All mainstream electronic product manufacturers must undergo thermal management assessment before getting to actual manufacturing to produce a standard product.