As electronics and circuits get smaller, lack of precision becomes more problematic and less acceptable.
Fremont, CA: Begin with, the tighter trace/space on circuit boards causes signal loss, leading to many issues. This incorporates diminished battery life and less efficient energy usage, which can severely weaken the value of new microelectronic design.
The ideal solution for this issue is to utilize smaller PCBs that accommodate these shrinking sizes without a subsequent drop in quality. But, naturally, that’s easier said than done. Generally, the PCB industry’s movement toward micro has been driven forward by necessity from device designers and manufacturers.
But there are, or anyway have been, limits to the minimum size of the trace and space and the circuit board itself.
Recent advances in micro PCB technology have made it possible to accommodate this shift.
Additive vs. Subtractive Micro PCBs
Lately, 3 mils were the minimum width for PCB traces and spaces. It wasn’t that PCB manufacturers were unfit to produce lines below this number—they couldn’t get smaller without sacrificing consistency and accuracy.
This was an inherent issue with the subtractive approach to microcircuitry printing processes. The traditional approach is not precise at such small sizes, and there will always be a degree of uncertainty regarding the line thickness. As electronics and circuits get smaller, this lack of precision becomes more problematic and less acceptable.
Though, this is no longer the case with additive-based printed circuit board processes. Rather than removing copper (i.e., the subtractive process), the additive approach involves adding copper to the PCB.
This technique is far more accurate, allowing manufacturers to deliver smaller tracing space and greater density per inch without encountering the signal loss problems highlighted above. This is large because additive processes can deliver universally uniform traces and space for signals to travel through, which cuts down on data corruption.