PCB Manufacturing

Gold Finger PCBs: A Comprehensive Overview of Their Applications

PCB with Gold Fingers

The Electronics industry is one which never halts its evolution process, essentially because of the wide range of innovative technologies relying on this industry for the needs of infrastructure and the agile hardware required by those new age technologies.

One relatively new innovation in PCB manufacturing is PCB gold fingers, which are believed to be the first designed at the turn of the millennium and the IPC standards were formalized in 2002. In this modern era of technology, an important aspect of any device is to have connectivity to computers, phones or other devices, providing a single extended platform for the user to have control over multiple devices.

What are Gold Finger PCBs

The name gold finger stems from the actual material of the component, and it refers to gold-plated areas serving as contacts or connectors. Gold provides a medium which offers extremely low corrosion resistance and excellent electrical conductivity. As gold itself is not as strong physically, it is usually used in alloys with nickel and cobalt to make the finger resistant to wear and tear. The need for a stronger finger arises due to the application, where a user might connect or disconnect the device several times.

These connectors help in transferring signals from an auxiliary PCB to the mainboard. In sum, This innovation is believed to serve a range of industries, from consumer electronics to the space industry. In this article, we will explore the importance of Gold Finger PCBs across a wide range of sectors, and their importance throughout.

PCB Gold Fingers

Applications of Gold Finger PCBs

Since gold finger PCBs are easy to plug in and pull out to a socket, and also will not be oxidated. So gold finger PCBs are widely used in many industrial areas. Here we would like to talk about a few areas they are used.

Telecommunications

With the research and development of 5G and 6G technologies, the telecommunications industry is as crucial a field as ever. The infrastructure of these technologies needs to be reliable and tough which is why gold finger PCBs are also familiar to this industry. Networking equipment such as switches, routers and NICs employ gold finger PCBs, to be able to maintain low impedance paths for precise and fast signal transmission.

These networking equipment are meant to be added or removed from existing networks, hence making gold finger PCBs a suitable application in the hardware. In addition, transmission networks like fiber optics and wireless infrastructure also use gold fingers in their PCBs in transceiver devices and signal processing applications. This makes the PCBs used resistant to corrosion, oxidation and wear while maintaining signal integrity.

Medical Industry

In today’s day and age, the medical industry relies heavily on devices such as imaging devices, implantable medical devices and monitoring equipment. Imaging devices such as MRI and CT Scans work at extremely high power and voltage levels with higher inductances and power converting circuits inside. However, for the displays and user controls, the higher voltages have to be isolated so there are no electric shock related accidents. Hence, the different circuit components of the device are separate and gold finger PCBs allow them to have connectivity to the MCU of the device.

Generally, the SMPS (Switching Mode Power Supply) network of the devices provides the various voltage levels required for the different components, which are supplied through the gold finger connectors of the PCBs. The gold plated traces provide better signal integrity and offer higher accuracy, to be able to provide precise signals for signal processing and image reconstruction.

Furthermore, gold plated PCBs are also commonly used in implantable devices such as neurostimulators, pacemakers and defibrillators. The inert nature of the material Gold allows it to be used in the PCBs for these devices, as it does not react with the different chemicals inside the human body and risks any kind of poisoning. The same characteristic also allows gold finger PCBs to be used in monitoring devices like glucose meters and ECG devices. These devices come in contact with bodily fluids commonly, and gold plating prevents corrosion of the PCBs used in these devices.

Gold Finger PCBs

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace and defense industry is one in which it is necessary to have reliable systems based on reliable components, due to the intense nature of performance required. Due to higher acoustics and vibration in machines from this industry, their design needs to be strong, resistant and reliable. Gold finger PCBs are common in such applications due to their rigidity and tough build.

Electronics like weapon systems, radars and communication devices used in the military often incorporate Gold Finger PCBs due to their long-term reliability and resistance to oxidation and corrosion. Aircraft are also becoming increasingly dependent upon systems with gold-plated connectors, simply due to the added connectivity of multiple new-age features. These sorts of PCBs perform well in extreme temperatures and vibration conditions. Another defense application is satellites and spacecraft, which also incorporate gold-plated mainboards in their system circuits.

Automotive Industry

As the automotive industry becomes increasingly inclined towards electric vehicles (EV), the need for high quality components will continue to increase. Additionally, modern cars with contemporary engines also focus more on the frills and additional features inside a car, such as ADAS, cruise control, GPS, driving modes, screens with increased applications and better entertainment systems. All these technologies require the hardware to be reliable and offer high performance.

Systems like ADAS which offer features including adaptive cruise control, lane assist and collision avoidance, are based on sensor data and their integration with microcontrollers. These sensors require connectors on the mainboard side to provide the input which is then processed through the microcontroller. During this processing, it is extremely important to have accurate data and do the processing at high speeds. This is why gold finger PCBs are a suitable option, so that there are no signal distortions or delays in data transfer, as the life of the driver is at risk during this process.

Furthermore, consumers also like to add certain customizations to the entertainment system on their cars, and gold finger PCBs allow them to be as simple as plug-and-play to replace these systems. For example, a customer who does not want a stock LCD but a panoramic one can choose to install it aftermarket. This replacement will be made easier if the connectors are easy to use and reliable, which is again an attribute of gold finger PCBs. Engine Control Units, more commonly known as the computer of the car also require precise data, hence making it important to rely on Gold Finger PCBs.

Gold Finger PCB for Electronics

Consumer Electronics

A common idea is that if someone opens up a smartphone they will find gold in it. Well, it is a fact because certain manufacturers do use ‘gold’ finger PCBs inside, especially due to its benefits in stability, reliability and tablets. PCB gold fingers help in connecting multiple modules like the camera, touchscreen and battery to the motherboard. In addition, they are also used in home appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, and electric and induction hobs. Similar to a smartphone, modern-day appliances as well do not have just a single functionality.

With the introduction of touchscreens, IoT, AI, and smart homes, into home appliances, the need and importance of gold finger PCBs continue to grow. Essentially, PCB gold fingers are used in everyday use appliances with multiple functionalities which people of this day and age may not survive, as these electronics have become a part of their lifestyles.

Conclusion

In sum, gold finger PCBs are a need of the PCB manufacturing industry, no matter which device they are used in, because of the modular design of modern PCBs. As electronics continue their innovation into IoT and AI, the demand for gold finger PCBs will only increase. They provide greater signal integrity, lower impedance paths, and rigid and resistant connectors. Essentially, a reliable connection from one module to another, while maintaining signal quality and stability of the device. Vehicles, washing machines and MRI devices are all examples of machines in which PCBs are prone to vibration and motion, which is why the need for strong and reliable connections is substantial. From the medical industry to aerospace, they serve a range of industries with their beneficial attributes and will continue to remain in demand as the need for high-performance electronic systems increases day by day.

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