Specialized applications often require rigid circuit board stiffeners, high current-carrying busbars, large ground planes, and/or other circuit components for use in severe environments. E-Fab assists in engineering and manufacturing lead-free PCBs, multilayers, and backplanes for a wide range of end-use applications.
E-Fab stiffeners and busbars are manufactured using photochemical machining (PCM), or etching, and are the highest quality, direct replacements for the old Circuit Components, Inc. (CCI) type. Typically, busbars are manufactured from copper and the stiffeners from brass. Either is customizable and available in many sizes, shapes, materials, and finishes per specification.
What is a PCB Stiffener?
PCB Stiffeners are used to keep PC boards flat, straight, and rigid. They require very little space and allow for the close proximity of other on-board components. A stiffener is generally used to rigidize the PCB during and after assembly. It protects the board from cracks on solder joints and traces and helps decrease vibration and shock damage.
E-Fab manufactures stiffeners in various lengths, any number of pins, and numerous selections of pin grid patterns. We also have double-layer and ‘L’ shaped circuit board stiffeners available.
What is a Busbar?
A busbar is a stiffener that has been dielectrically coated. Therefore it has all of the qualities found in a stiffener with the added benefit of being able to carry ground and power distribution up to 128 amps, thus eliminating the need for heavy traces. Used in electrical power distribution, a busbar (also spelled bus bar, buss bar, or bussbar) is a metallic strip or bar that conducts electricity within a distribution board, circuit board, battery bank, power supply unit, or other electrical apparatus.
Typically made of copper or brass, its main purpose is to conduct a substantial current of electricity, more than can be provided by standard power and ground traces. This is possible due to the busbar being powder coated with a dielectric coating with a hiPot of 2000 volts.
Features. Circuit boards can be designed around various types of busbar features such as custom-designed pinning configurations, including different width of the pins and/or connector tabs for high current distributions onboard a PCB. Some application requirements are ideal for heatsinking or mounting other hardware devices, electronic components or connectors to the circuit board. All busbar features are customizable by E-Fab, including:
- Surface holes or slots
- Top and end tabs
Multi-Layer Busbars. E-Fab manufactures two or more layer and multi-layer busbars to specification. The 2-layer busbars can be used on circuit boards, power supplies, or other power distribution applications for both power(s) and/or ground at the same time.
The 2-layer busbar is designed essentially as a multilayer, with two conducting copper layers separated by an insulator layer. The copper layers are designed and manufactured with a staggered pin configuration (custom configurations are also available) so that every other pin is power and ground. The beauty of using a 2-layer busbar on a circuit board is having all the advanced features of a stiffener plus extra power and ground busses rolled into one space-saving design.
For E-Fab’s Proprietary Stiffener drawing page, Click Here.
Advantages of PCB Stiffeners and Busbars
E-Fab’s manufactured stiffeners and busbars will enable you to increase PCB yields, reliability, and longevity of your circuit boards. They are also cost savers; mounting rivets and installation screws are not required for circuit board assembly.
Additional advantages of stiffeners and busbars include:
- Strengthening. A stiffener or a busbar is used to provide structural support to a circuit board. This can correct warped or sagging circuit boards and backplanes, and prevent shorts to chassis or from board to board while stacked in card cages.
- Rigidity. The addition of a stiffener or busbar increases the rigidity of the PCBs and reduces vibration.
Power Distribution. Busbars provide higher power distribution for ground circuits on PCBs and power supply circuits.
- Conductivity. A busbar can serve a dual purpose of providing structural integrity to a circuit board and being a conducting bus or multi-buses. Conductivity is strongest when the busbar is made of copper.
Increasing the rigidity of modern circuit boards is more important than ever. As a result of the adaptation of lead-free solder, to meet the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), increased temperatures are required in wave soldering and the required use of different metals and alloys places significant strain on the circuit boards.
Keeping circuit boards and backplanes flat through the manufacturing and assembly process is critical for producing high-quality and reliable boards. There is however another reason for using PCB stiffeners. Consider the natural elements of thermal expansion and contraction through both hot and cold operating temperatures; the warming and cooling cycles when a circuit board is in use; and the normal vibration factors during usage. These operating conditions can cause early board failures resulting from cracked traces and cold solder joints developing at the circuit components’ connections. These are typical applications where the PCB stiffeners solution should be applied.
Applications and Industries
The use of stiffeners and busbars gives strength and rigidity to applications intended for use in unforgiving environments. Other applications that benefit from these products include power and/or ground circuits on PCBs and power supply circuits. E-Fab has served customers in industries such as:
- Medical Devices
- Extreme Environments
- Commercial Products
E-Fab’s Commitment to Service
We have the resources and capabilities to take on challenging projects. Our engineering team doesn’t stop until the parts and services meet your specifications and perform as expected.
Our experience and ability to think creatively, have made E-Fab a trusted partner to our customers. Contact us today to request a quote for your project.