End use environment conscious technological advancement

PCB Materials for End Use Environment Fabrication

It’s not unusual to use technological leaps as markers to denote significant periods in the history of printed circuit boards. But it is becoming more difficult as the tools and methods that determine how PCBAs are built are continually evolving, including increased automation, the use of robotics, greater agility, and an emphasis on sustainability or environmental impact. In many cases, these transformations are motivated or supported by regulations and standards.

Rules and guidelines, such as the RoHS directives, ensure safe and responsible technological advancement in PCBA development. Accordingly, the environment in which your board is installed can significantly affect its operation and reliability. To mitigate any negative effects, board design and manufacturing should incorporate end use environment conditions into their processes. Doing so begins with choosing PCB materials that possess the right properties to offset any environmental hazards.

Important PCB Materials Properties to Know

Component selection is a critical aspect of board functionality and performance. Your choices are also important when it comes to minimizing or eliminating risks, such as procurement uncertainty and component failure. One of the most common causes of board failure is not accounting for the environment. Neglecting to design your PCBA to properly withstand end of use environmental conditions will often result in premature failure, early replacements, recalls, or perhaps even redesigns—all of which increase time and costs.

Board failures can include delamination, warping, breakage, surface arcing, and fires. Therefore, it is important to know which properties of PCB materials, like those listed below, determine end use environmental limits within which your board can maintain its structural integrity.

Important PCB Material Properties 

  • Glass transition temperature (Tg)
  • Coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE)
  • Decomposition temperature (Td)
  • Time to delamination
  • Peel strength
  • Flexural strength
  • Electrical strength
  • Combustibility
  • Water absorption

The above parameters are typically included in specifications provided by PCB material manufacturers. However, knowing what values are acceptable for your board depends on its application and end use environment.

Important End Use Environmental Material Considerations

Commercial PCBAs are often required to meet lower IPC classification manufacturing standards, which means general purpose materials like FR-4 will likely suffice. For other environments, such as aerospace, automotive, defense and industrial, additional hazards may mandate more careful consideration of certain PCB material attributes, as shown in the table below.

End Use Environment vs PCB Material Attributes
End Use Environment Environmental Conditions PCB Material Attributes
Aerospace Radiation

Extreme temperatures

Extreme Pressure


Tg, CTE, Td, Time to delamination, flexural strength, peel strength, combustibility
Automotive High temperatures

Low temperatures


Constant motion

Tg, CTE, Td, Time to delamination, flexural strength, peel strength, combustibility
Defense Rugged terrain


Constant motion

Flexural strength, peel strength
Industrial Vibration

Constant/intermittent motion


Flexural strength, peel strength, electrical strength, water absorption

As the table illustrates, when choosing PCB materials for boards deployed in critical industry applications, the impact of temperature, pressure, motion, vibration, and moisture must be taken into account to avoid board failure.

Environment-Optimized PCBA Material Selection

Choosing PCB materials for your design is always important and should be based on where your board will be deployed. For critical system PCBA development, however, your choice is especially significant to ensure functionality and reliable operation while avoiding failure or premature breakdown. Following the guidelines below will help you meet this objective.

Guidelines for End Use Environment PCB Material Selection

  • Know the PCB material parameters that define the range within which the board can maintain its structural and electrical integrity.
  • Know the environmental conditions of your board’s intended operational environment.
  • Select board materials based on environmental extremes, not nominal conditions.
Tempo's Custom PCB Manufacturing Service
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600, and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Execute your full development cycle from proto to validation, NPI, and low volume production.
  • Accurate quote in less than a day.
  • Performs entire turnkey process in as fast as 4 days.
  • DFX support, including DFM, DFA, and DFT from Day 1 of design.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry. to reduce procurement time.
  • Software-driven smart factory with monitoring and control throughout the manufacturing process.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during PCB assembly to ensure PCB quality for prototyping.
  • Smooth transition from prototyping to production.

At Tempo Automation, the industry leader for fast, high-quality PCBA prototyping and on-demand production, we routinely build boards that meet the most demanding standards for hazardous end use environments. And we’ll work closely with you to help you make the best material selections for your designs.

To help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on CAD files or how to incorporate your design into a CAD format, contact us.

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