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Multilayer PCB

Single and Multi-Layer PCBs: Know the Difference

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Before you design a printed circuit board you will have to decide whether you are going to use a single layer or a multi-layer PCB. Both of these designs are very common and can be found in a wide variety of devices that we use every day. The type of PCB that’s right for you will depend on how you plan to use it. Many complex devices tend to use multi-layer PCB and the simpler devices use single layer PCB’s.

What is the Difference Between Them?

Single Layer PCB’s**

Single layer printed circuit boards have their components on just one side of the board. The conducting pattern is located on the other side of the board. There is typically one single layer of conductive material which is likely to be copper. A single layer PCB is made up of a substrate layer, a conductive metal (Copper) layer, and a final layer. This final layer is a protective solder mask and a silk screen.

Multi-layer PCB’s

Multilayer Printed Circuit Boards

PCB’s such as these usually have at least 3 double sided boards that are stacked on top of each other. Multi-layer boards can contain as many boards as you need. However, they tend to have between 4 and 12 layers. Odd numbers of layers can cause twisting and warping.

Every substrate latter has a conductive metal that’s located on both sides. A special adhesive is used on each board to join them together. Vias (paths) let the layers conduct each other. The vias fall into 3 different groups:

Blind – which connect and outer layer of PCB to an inner layer

Buried – which connect 2 inner layers and ensure they are invisible from outside the board

Through-hole – which goes through every single layer of the PCB

The Pros and Cons of Each Circuit Board

When we look at a single vs multilayer pcb we see that each of the pros and cons, these are:

Single Pros

They have a lower cost

A simpler design

Can be produced at a higher volume

Shortened lead time

Single Cons

They can be too simple for complex projects

Has a lower operating capacity

Has a slower speed

Weighs more

Is larger in size

Multi-layer Pros

Ideal for complicated projects

Is usually very high-quality

Has increased power

Has more durability

Weighs less than a single PCB

Is smaller in size

Has one connection point

Multi-layer Cons

Costs more than a PCB

Is less available

Has longer lead times

Complex repairs may be needed

Determining What Type of PCB you Need

When deciding which type of PCB you need you will have to consider the level of functionality that’s needed and the maximum size of the board. You will also need to consider whether you need a durable PCB along with your budget. Finally, you will need to look at how soon you need the PCBs.

When you take all of these factors into consideration you’ll have a better idea of what type of Printed Circuit Board you need.