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Multilayer PCB Benefits and Applications

PCB is necessary for the industrial and fabrication of electronic products, from consumer goods to industrial-grade solutions. Single layered, Multilayered, and particular types of PCB fabrication are all around us. But not all PCB fabrication is born the same. In this article, we will cover a specific subject of manufacturing called multilayer PCB fabrication.

We will explain a multilayer PCB board and how to make a multilayer PCB. We will also cover the advantages and disadvantages of such PCBs and the possible alternatives.



Multi-layer PCB explained


multilayer pcb


As its name stands for, Multilayer PCB is a type of PCB with more than two layers inside it. The design includes conductive copper layers glued together with other layers of insulation. Multilayer design manufactured in a way that allows the layers to connect using vias. Multilayer PCB is considered complex by design and suitable for applications with dense space or many electronic components. The method can come in different forms PCBs, such as flexible multilayer PCBs, HDI-designed PCBs, and others…. PCB manufacturing is often done similarly to single-layered production, with few exceptions. Below are the differences:


1. Standard multilayer PCB – a PCB that doesn't have any specific requirements. This is the most common type of PCB that people will order.


2. Flexible multilayer PCB – a particular type of PCB. Flexible PCB ability is to bent, flex ability used in various consumer and industrial applications. This kind of PCB is usually more expensive than the normal Multilayer one.


3. HDI multilayer PCB – a design with high circuit density. This is very common for multilayer PCB designs with 6+ layers. Those designs are usually very complex and more expensive to manufacture.


If you are wondering how to make a multilayered PCB, it's similar to any other PCB but with more layers and stages in between. The above all can be considered a multilayer PCB in different shapes and forms. Usually, as the project's complexity rises, the requirements and demands for a multilayer PCB fabrication process increase. Some PCB designs are too complex to fit in a single-layer PCB, so that a multilayer design can be the only option.



Alternatives to Multilayer PCB

double layer pcb

The alternative for a multilayer PCB will be a single-layer PCB. But this PCB has enormous disadvantages in complex designs and applications. Here are some of the disadvantages that a single-layer PCB suffers from that multilayer doesn't:


1. Low density – if the project contains high-density components, it might not be suitable for a single-layered PCB. Typically, it can't fit a normal-sized PCB and will require a multilayered design. The PCB Density requires more layout copper interconnections.


2. Large PCB size – Due to the direct impact of density, a single-layered PCB will be much larger than a multilayered PCB. While copper wires can move between layers using vias in a multilayer design, a single-layered design doesn't allow that.


3. Weight – Single layer design can fit a small number of components, resulting in multiple single-layer PCBs fabricated for a single project. Such circumstances will affect the total weight of the product.


4. Low functionality – considering all the above, the average functionality of a single-layer PCB is way below a multilayer design. Thus, a multilayer design should be considered for complex projects when possible.


Considering the above crucial points, it's easy to understand why most engineers choose multilayer design as the go-to option. For a simple design, a single-layered design will do. For complex and industrial-grade applications, multilayered is the way to go.



The benefits of Multilayer PCB



The benefits of multilayer PCB manufacturing exceed any other PCB fabrication we know. Here are some of the benefits you can get by fabricating a multilayered PCB:1. Size – multilayer PCBs are more compact and dense compared to single-layered PCBs. The small size is the direct result of the multilayered ability of such PCB designs that allows it to connect wires in more overgrown space between multilayers.


1. Weight – The PCB design efficiency, which results in a smaller size, will directly impact the PCB weight. Nobody wants to end up with a bulky, heavy, oversized PCB for functionality and visuality reasons. Multilayer PCB enables the fabrication of small, lightweight PCBs. 


2. Flexibility – one popular type of PCB is the multilayer flex PCB. The flex PCB ability enables it to fold without damaging the circuit board. The board stays durable for a long and can fulfill multiple complex application demands.


3. Single unit to rule them all – dealing with multilayered PCB, a single fabricated PCB is usually enough to get all the necessary work done, unlike a single-layered PCB, which might require multiple PCBs to reach the same results. Due to the PCB's high density, various components can be wired together in a small space.


Understanding the benefits of such a board can help us create better applications for our project needs. Regarding production time, The multilayer PCB fabrication process is efficient and quick and won't impact our production timeline.



Downsides of Multilayer PCB

If you are reading so far, you might think you can use multilayer PCBs for all your future projects. Every type of design has disadvantages, and Multilayer PCB is no different.

Although the enormous benefits and advantages we can get using multilayer design, there are some downsides we might want to consider:


1. Cost of production – The cost of production, especially for samples and prototypes, is considered expensive. At the mass production stage, the price doesn't make much difference. However, PCBs with eight or even 16 layers will be regarded as much more expensive than 4 to 6 layers of PCB. It's crucial to remember that the cost of production increases with the PCB project's complexity.


2. Complexity – Multilayer PCB fabrication is complex by nature, and during the production process, especially for a large number of layers, there is a higher risk for mistakes. Choosing a trusted multilayer PCB supplier is essential to ensure consistency and quality during fabrication.


3. Engineering resources – Not everyone can design a multilayer PCB. Those type of PCBs requires a large qualified engineering team with appropriate resources.


4. Testing – It's often time-consuming to fix issues with multilayer PCB designs. Because of the multilayers and the number of wires, tracing down the problem and fixing it might be a tedious task that only skilled engineers can handle.


5. Production time – Compared to a single-layered PCB, multilayered PCBs have a higher lead time for production. This is especially true for 8-16 layers when the complexity and the overhead for production increase.


All those disadvantages might have demotivated you a little, but don't worry! The advantages of designing a multilayered PCB suppress any other existing type of PCB design.


Multilayer PCB use cases and applications.


With all this knowledge, you might wonder, What can you use a multilayer PCB for? Well, the answer is a lot. Many types of applications can benefit from a multilayer PCB design. Here are some of the most popular applications that incorporate multilayered PCB designs:


1. Consumer electronics – Toys, home appliances, and cellphones benefit from a multilayered PCB. The most important requirement for those applications is small size and high efficiency, making a multilayered design a perfect choice.


2. Computers and laptops – As you read the article using your laptop, you might wonder what a multilayered PCB has to do with it. The truth is, a multilayered PCB is located right beneath your fingertips. Those PCBs are very popular in notebooks, laptops, and personal computers. Many large companies such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo choose multilayer PCB fabrication processes for their products.


3. Network and telecommunication – There is a great demand for such PCBs in the telecommunication industry. Primarily due to the high efficiency and quality of such PCBs.


4. Medical devices – Hospital equipment, MRI, CT, and X-Ray machines all use multilayered PCB. Surprisingly, this type of design plays an essential role in saving our lives!

5. Automotive – Electric cars, boats, and other types of automotive vehicles all benefit from the quality and density of the layered PCB design.


6. Aerospace – airplanes, satellites, and spaceships- the board doesn't just stay on earth but goes beyond it.


7. Industrial applications – Multilayer PCB manufacturing machine is one type of equipment that uses the multilayer design for industrial use. Even the multilayer PCB printer itself is designed using the multilayered technique. Those kinds of equipment need to be precise and durable, which makes a multilayer design a perfect choice.



Conclusion


Multilayer PCB designs are all around us, and it's an important decision to make whenever we should use multilayer design in our upcoming project—wondering where multilayered PCBs are made? China multilayer PCB fabrication might be the answer you are looking for.


PCBasic is a multilayer PCB supplier located in Shenzhen, China, The silicon valley of hardware. After years of gaining experience and serving thousands of customers worldwide, we have mastered the multilayer PCB fabrication process.


The Multilayer pcb manufacturing process is challenging and risky, but it doesn't have to be. With PCBasic, rest assured the PCB is made on time and using the best market-available materials. With all the possibilities of multilayer PCB suppliers, you only need to choose one, and PCBasic can ensure you will get a quality-assured, low-priced, multilayered PCB in no time.

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