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Development of New Automotive PCBs

Nov. 25, 2020

In the near future, the functional and environmental requirements of automotive electronics will change dramatically. This is mainly influenced by three major trends: automated driving, connected cars, and the increasing number of electric cars.

These trends will increase the added value of electronics in automobiles. For automotive PCBs, the technology used will have to be able to handle multiple 100A high currents and GHz quantities of information processing. From a product performance point of view, far beyond the functionality of PCBs in today's automobiles, new concepts are needed.

Most of the technologies related to signal processing in PCBs can be used in the consumer products industry, but when used in the automotive industry, they must be converted to meet the necessary quality and reliability requirements. In the case of power electronics, the development of new PCBs is necessary in order to mass-produce them for a larger market, but up to now, power electronics have only been produced in small batches.

PCBs are key components of these electronic systems, and given the high-speed requirements, they are more than just connections between devices. Special attention must be paid to PCB failure modes that can lead to short circuits or open circuits. In a driverless car powered by hundreds of volts, the PCBs must be thoroughly understood to ensure reliable operation.

 Automotive PCBs

Automotive Requirements for Future Electronics

The specific requirements of automotive PCBs are influenced by environmental loads such as temperature, humidity, and vibration loads over their lifetime. Depending on the specific application, diversification requirements will increase. On the one hand, electronics are getting smaller and closer to the actuators (e.g. engines), e.g. power electronics have to withstand higher temperatures; on the other hand, electronic devices such as on-board computers are better protected against external stresses and require longer life due to charging times and 24-hour-a-day service.

The functional requirements are also diverse. The use of PCBs in electric vehicles may be a cost-effective solution, but PCBs must be able to withstand automotive environments such as currents of several hundred amperes over a million hour life time and voltages of up to 1000 volts.

In order to meet the signal processing requirements of automated and connected vehicles, automotive HDI technology must also take a big step forward to be able to use processors and memories with thousands of I/Os and BGA spacing <0.8 mm. The high speed requirements require the use of new materials that must cope with environmental requirements, especially humidity and temperature.

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