With billions of things connecting in the Internet of Things, the extensive footprint, reliability, security and proven performance of cellular networks is the ideal platform for growth. With Ericsson software enhancements, it just got better. Source

IoT PCB considerations for Startups

Considering IoT products are so newer, you would believe that getting an IoT printed circuit board (PCB) project off the ground starts by reinventing the wheel and experiencing a great deal of technical difficulties. That is most certainly false.

Nevertheless it doesn’t indicate that IoT startups have a apparent method to stardom. Facing them is a number of design and manufacturing factors which are completely unique to these small products. These points to consider should be thought of for the new IoT device to reach your goals.

On the plus side, it’s necessary for IoT startups to find out that the basic foundation for a successful awesome product exists. This simply means experience and knowhow concerning the design, fabrication and assembly of these state-of-the-art products are out there. And the most sage advice is for judicious IoT product business men and leaders to follow the recommendations that expert electronics manufacturing services or EMS providers provide. These firms in addition to their engineering team members have carried out this work with groundbreaking IoT companies in Silicon Valley joining the beginning of this promising industry.

The PCB of an IoT unit is a distinct beast than the traditional one, which is much larger and flat. IoT devices, on the contrary, consist mainly of either rigid-flex or flex circuit assemblies, which come with their very own sets of design layout, fabrication and assembly points to consider and nuances.

PCB PWB Design Layout Fab Assembly


A foremost factor is to seek out expert designers who have achieved a whole lot of rigid-flex PCB designs. PCB space for an IoT unit is confined. So you want the designer to have direct layout practical knowledge to productively design critical elements on that modest space.

As well, most IoT devices aren’t fixed; they sustain extensive movement and twisting. Right here, the expert designer plays an essential role in assessing bend ratios and lifecycle iterations as a vital part of a design. Various other critical design layout points to consider include things like signal trace thickness, number of rigid and flex circuit layers, copper weight and stiffener placement. Stiffeners are utilized on flex circuits to make sure that elements placed on the flex circuit stay properly in position to prevent itself from movement.

One additional thing to consider is through-hole component placement in rigid-flex circuits. Why is that crucial? The majority of IoT appliances are founded on surface mount device placement. But there can be through-hole elements, which are typically placed on either the rigid section or the flex part of the board. Through-hole elements are generally helpful to connect input/output or I/O signals to the exterior world. Like that, those signals can show up employing an LCD or LED monitor. Through-hole component placement is a critical account in an IoT system since when applied on the flex portion of the board, right stiffeners ought to be designed and implemented for excellent assembly.

And finally in the layout category, the heat that elements generate ought to be considered. IoT devices are getting more sophisticated with rigid-flex and flex circuits featuring upwards of 12 to 14 layers. Several devices are digital. But progressively more analog devices are getting used in IoT devices. Analog circuitry causes significantly more heat than digital ones. It indicates heat expansion plus contraction rate must be thought of. In tech lingo, it is termed as the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion or CTE and the right treatments for it.

PCB PWB Design Layout Fab Assembly


Choosing the proper fabricator is extremely important and is linked to the EMS firm you’ve determined. The fabricator you want should have IoT PCB fabrication experience. Amongst critical points to consider here are insuring intense adhesions in between layers on both rigid and flex circuit sides, comprehending all of the important calculations and obtaining a great knowledge of when current transfers from the rigid side to the flex side.

Such fabricators also must possess an in-depth knowledge of incredibly little parts for instance 0201 and 00105 device packages, package-on-package, and the utilization of fine-pitch ball-grid array or BGA packaged devices.

In addition, they need to have experience in designing boards with truly tight tolerances in terms of footprint for those sorts of BGA devices, in terms of up-to-date capabilities like laser direct imaging for putting the solder mask on the board. They ought to have laser drills for via drilling with sizes of 5 mils or under since these IoT units could be so tiny that a typical drill size of 5 to 8 mils perhaps might not be adequate. They might ought to go to a 3 mil, which means you need to have an cutting-edge laser drilling capability on-site.

In case you’re placing via-in-pad, it’s really a good way to utilize the small real estate which is available on the rigid-flex board, nonetheless , it produces trouble for assembly. If vias aren’t totally planar or flat in shape, it will be challenging during the assembly of those tiny BGA packaged devices. That is because non-planar surfaces can threaten the integrity of solder joints.

Occasionally via in pads leave bumps in case they’re not cleaned effectively after laying the vias and gold finish at the top. If there are bumps, then the solder joints in the assembly for those tiny BGA balls in those IoT devices would not be a great joint. It may create intermittent connections, which can be a bigger issue to handle and resolve. It all boils down to which EMS firm you’re working with because they’re the ones who will discover the fabrication house to make a triumphant IoT item for you.

PCB PWB Design Layout Fab Assembly

PCB Assembly

It’s essential to pay a visit to expert EMS companies that have effectively assembled IoT and wearable PCBs since they have special tooling and fixtures already out there, which are needed for assembly to make certain that components are placed perfectly, precisely and the printing is practiced perfectly.

Printing could be a challenge for IoT devices. If it’s a rigid-flex board, then there does exist a difference between thicknesses of the rigid and flex circuit portions, that means a special fixture is required to keep the complete rigid-flex board planar or thoroughly flat to make effective printing to be realized.

Startups really should be prepared to select the correct manufacturing partners and EMS firms. By doing this they can guarantee they have sufficient experience before hand to get the multitude of design, fabrication and assembly details effectively performed because they are essential to a lucrative and timely IoT product roll-out.

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