Your Trustworthy Ceramic PCB manufacturer

  • Ceramic, Ceramic reinforced, Ceramic Hybrid
  • PTFE Ceramic, Hydrocarbon Ceramic
  • Alumina, Aluminium nitride, Silicon carbide, Beryllium oxide
  • Blind & Buried Vias, Micro Vias, HDIs
  • Small to Medium Volume Production
  • ISO9001:2015, ISO 13485:2016 Certified & UL Listed
  • 100% E-test, AOI & Visual Inspection
  • HAL, ENIG, ENEPIG, Immersion Tin/silver, OSP

An Overview of Ceramic Substrate PCB

Ceramic substrate PCB is an organic ceramic circuit board made of thermally conductive ceramic powder and an organic binder to produce a substrate with thermal conductivity of 9-20W/m.k at 250°C.

The highly integrated PCB has become an unstoppable trend with the gradual advancement of electronics in various applications. The highly integrated package module will require an excellent thermal load-bearing system. However, the TC (thermal conductivity) of traditional FR-4 and CEM-3 PCBs need to be better to satisfy the needs of electronic technology. Over the years, the LED industry has been developing rapidly, and for better product performance, the thermal conductivity index of LED PCBs needs to meet higher requirements.

In the field of high-power LED, they will use excellent heat dissipation performance materials like metal and ceramic etc., for their PCB production, the thermal conductive of high heat conduction aluminium substrate PCB usually are 1 – 4 W/m.k. Still, the thermal conductive of ceramic substrate PCB can reach around 200 W/m.k according to the difference in production methods and material formula.

Choose Viasion As Your Ceramic Substrate PCB Supplier

Viasion offers efficient ceramic substrate PCB production and ensures that PCBs are produced with the highest levels of accuracy and precision.

Viasion strives to create ceramic substrate PCBs that meet exacting standards for accuracy and quality.

Viasion can provide a full range of ceramic PCB solutions, including PCB design, fabrication, assembly, testing, inspection, etc. Our complete ceramic substrate PCB services will significantly satisfy your needs.

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    Some Categories of Ceramic Substrate:

    The ceramic PCB substrate is divided into crystalline glass and glass and filler, mainly using Al2O3. The surface conductive pattern materials are copper, silver, palladium, platinum, etc., and they also use suitable stability materials like tungsten and molybdenum. Now let’s glimpse at the four types of the traditional ceramic substrate preparation method ( composite made from raw materials ). Viasion is good at all of the ceramic PCBs manufacturing. 

    HTCC (High-Temperature Co-fired Ceramic)

    HTCC method involves laminating multiple ceramic layers with an adhesive or resin material to obtain better structural integrity and requires temperatures above 1300℃. This method is rather costly.

    LTCC (Temperature Co-fired Ceramic)

    LTCC is another method that offers improved electrical performance over HTCC in terms of frequency response and signal transmission speed, requiring a temperature of around 850℃.

    DBC (Direct Bonded Copper)

    The DBC preparation method requires a formed alloy between the copper foil and ceramics. It needs to control calcination temperature strictly in the range of 1065-1085°C because this method involves copper thickness, which typically can not lower 150 - 300 um, so that limited the width depth ratio of conductor of this kind of Cceramic substrate boards.

    DPC (Direct Pressure Compaction)

    DPC method is a traditional ceramic processing technique used to produce ceramic components with complex shapes and high dimensional accuracy. This method includes process steps such as vacuum plating, wet coating, exposure development and etching. It is no wonder that the price of multilayer ceramic PCB substrates made by this method is very high.

    Classification of Ceramic substrate:

    1. Classification by materials of ceramic PCB substrates:

    Firing temperature is 1550 – 1600℃, mainly using the thick film method and co-firing method to produce; substrates are for hybrid integrated circuits, LSI packaging, and multi-layer circuits.
    The manufacturing cost is 15 times that of Alumina substrate, used for VHF (very high frequency) band power amplifier modules, high-power devices and laser diode substrate.
    Firing temperature is above 2000℃, typically use vacuum hot pressing method to produce, mainly used in low voltage circuit and VLSI high heat dissipation package substrate such as high speed, high integration logic LSI package with heat dissipation mechanism, and the applications of super large computer and laser diode of China Unicom Credit etc.
    Its thermal conductivity is a dozen times Al2O3, suitable for the high-power circuit, and its dielectric constant is low. It can use in the high-frequency circuit. BeO substrate is made by dry pressing to produce. Generally speaking, the material used in LED Ceramic substrate is mainly Alumina Ceramic substrate.

    2. Classification by circuit production method of ceramic substrates:

    Thick film ceramic substrate is produced by screen printing technology. The material is printed on the substrate by a scraper, then made by dry, sintering, laser etc. process. Usually, the circuit made by screen printing technology will quickly generate a circuit rough, inaccurate alignment phenomenon. So, for those high-power LED products with smaller and smaller size requirements and more and more fine lines requirements, and for those LED products produced by the accurate eutectic or cladding process, the precision of thick film ceramic substrate is gradually insufficient.
    Making thin film ceramic substrates as heat sink substrates for LED crystals can improve the screen plate problem caused by thick film ceramic circuit board substrates and the shrinkage problem after multi-layer stacking and sintering. Thin film ceramic substrates are produced by sputtering, electro / electrochemical deposition, and yellow light lithography processes and have characteristics as below: In the low-temperature manufacturing process ( lower than 300℃ ), we can avoid the possibility of high-temperature material break or dimensional variation. Using the yellow light lithography process can make a more precise circuit in the substrate. Metal circuits will be challenging to fall off. So, thin film ceramic substrates are suitable for high power, small size, high brightness LED products, and Eutectic/Cladding Packaging Processes with high alignment accuracy requirements.

    Some Important Production Technologies of Ceramic Substrate PCB

    Compared with FR-4 material, ceramic substrates are more vulnerable to being broken, so compared with standard PCB, ceramic substrate boards production technology will be more complex and require very high technology. Therefore, during the ceramic substrate PCB production, we should pay attention to a few significant production technology links. Viasion is a trusted ceramic pcb manufacturer in China with more than 16 years of experience. Please contact us freely for any of your ceramic PCBs need.

    Ceramic substrate PCB typically uses laser drilling for the drilling process. DPC gradually replaces traditional LTCC and DBC technology, but laser technology is more suitable for high-density interconnection and fine development of PCB. The multilayer ceramic PCB drilling by laser drilling technology, the binding force between ceramic and metal will be high.

    Therefore, it will not have a fall-off, blistering etc. phenomenon and then achieve the effect of growing together. It also has high surface flatness and low roughness in 0.1 um – 0.3 um; the hole size for laser drilling is 0.15 mm – 0.5 mm, and it even can reach 0.06 mm.
    China’s laser drilling technology has gained some experience and technical progress. Laser drilling has high accuracy, speed, and efficiency compared to traditional drilling technology. It is suitable for large-scale batch quantitative drilling, is proper to use in most rigid or soft materials, has no loss for drilling tools, has fewer waste materials, is environmentally friendly and pollution-free, etc.
    A Canadian company developed CO2 laser technology. Compared with standard laser technology, its output rate is higher, about one hundred to one thousand times, and accessible to production simultaneously.

    In the electromagnetic spectrum, radio frequency in the frequency range of 105-109 Hz, RF CO2 is developed with the development of military aerospace technology, medium and small power RF CO2 laser devices have characteristics like excellent modulation performance, power stability, high operation reliability, long service life etc.

    Although the process of CO2 laser drilling is complicated, but also has advantages, such as efficiency and high speed, so CO2 laser drilling can account for 80% of the PCB laser microporous processing market.

    Copper-clad means covering copper in an area that does not have circuits in PCB. The copper will connect with the ground wire to increase the ground wire area, reduce the ring circuit area, lower pressure drop, and improve power efficiency and anti-interference capability.

    Copper-clad can reduce the impedance of ground wire and the sectional area of the loop and increase the signal mirror loop. So, copper-clad technology is critical in ceramic substrate PCB technology because not completing or truncating the mirror loop or incorrectly placing the copper layer will cause new interference and harm PCB use.

    We you get your ceramic PCB designed, you can rely on us for your ceramic PCB fabrication.

    Production technology of ceramic substrate PCB: Etching

    1. Etching method for ceramic substrate PCB:

    Ceramic substrates also require etching, where a lead-tin coating is first pre-plated on the circuit diagram and then chemically etched with unprotected copper at non-conductor locations to form the circuit layer. Depending on the process method, etching is divided into inner-layer etching and outer-layer etching. Inner layer etching uses acid etching and will use wet or dry film as resist; outer layer etching uses alkaline etching and tin-lead. So we need to pay attention to etching method when produce ceramic printed circuit boards. 

    1. Prepare ceramic substrate PCB material. Pre-treat the ceramic substrate with an oxidizing solution to remove any surface contamination. Immerse ceramic in an alkaline etching solution for a specific period. Rinse ceramic substrate in water or other neutralizing agents.

    2. Activate ceramic substrate PCB material by subjecting it to an acid etch solution for a specific time. Then, remove surface contamination with a clean ceramic brush or other abrasive cleaning material.

    3. Apply ceramic substrate PCB masking material such as ceramic coating or ceramic film. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the application of ceramic masking material.

    4. Place ceramic substrate PCB in the etching bath and follow appropriate etching parameters to achieve the desired pattern on the ceramic substrate. Rinse ceramic substrate in water or neutralizing agent and dry ceramic substrate before further processing.

    5. Remove ceramic masking material and inspect the ceramic substrate surface for defects.

    6. Clean the ceramic substrate to remove any residue from the etching process.

    7. Prepare ceramic substrate PCB material for final packaging.

    1. Prepare ceramic substrate PCB boards with a copper surface. Next, immerse the ceramic circuit board into a Cupric chloride solution. Next, agitate the ceramic PCB in the solution for desired etching time. Finally, rinse off any excess acid from ceramic PCBs with water.

    2. To etch ceramic PCBs with Cupric chloride:
    Prepare ceramic substrate boards with a copper surface to accomplish desired design specifications.
    Submerge the ceramic PCB into a Cupric chloride solution and agitate the ceramic circuit board in the solution for the required etching time.
    Rinse any excess acid from ceramic PCBs with water to inhibit any damage.

    3. Carefully inspect etched ceramic printed circuits and clean and dry them with a soft cloth or clean air blower for best results.

    2. The common problems and improvement for etching technology

    Because the concentration of liquid medicine is a little low, the speed is too fast, and nozzle clogging will cause film removal, not cleaning problems. So need to check the concentration of liquid medicine before film removal, adjust the concentration of liquid mixture to the appropriate range, and adjust the speed parameter and dredging nozzle on time.

    Because the concentration of liquid medicine are too high and temperature too high, that will cause PCB board surface oxidation, so need to adjust the concentration of liquid medicine and temperature on time.
    There are many causes of copper not being clean, like etching speed being too fast, composition deviation of liquid medicine, copper contamination, nozzle clogging, temperature a little low etc. will cause copper etching not clean. To avoid these situations, we can take the following measures.

    Set the appropriate etching transport speed
    Check the composition of the chemical solution before etching
    Pay attention to avoid copper contamination during the operation
    Clean the nozzle in time to avoid nozzle clogging
    Adjust the temperature to a suitable range
    Because the machine running speed is too slow, the temperature is a little high will cause excessive copper etching problems, so we need to adjust the machine running speed and temperature before etching. Etching will greatly affect the quality of ceramic printed circuit boards.

    Ceramic Substrate PCB vs PCBs Made of Other Substrates

    1. Ceramic substrate PCB vs Metal substrate PCB

    Ceramic substrate materials are very suitable for making PCBs in the electronics field because of their high thermal conductivity (heat transfer can remove 170W), good chemical stability, good thermal strength, high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance and sound insulation, and high melting point.

    And they can adapt to many fields like high temperature, corrosive environment, high vibration frequency environment etc. Also, the ceramic circuit board insulating layer has high frequency and low dielectric constant, and its manufacturing process in lighter, thinner, and miniaturized are easier to achieve.

    The disadvantages of ceramic printed circuit boards  are also very obvious. For example, ceramic materials are very fragile, can not make lamination like other multi-layer PCB, and are expensive. And because the high hardness and density make its production relatively tricky. Ceramic material has low toughness, fragile, so the scrap rate is relatively high in each process. The final surface metallization is also a high equipment cost in the early stage.

    So for raw materials, ceramic materials are much more expensive than traditional materials, some even more expensive, 3-10 times more than conventional materials.

    The metal substrate is a metal PCB material that belongs to general electronic components and is formed by a thermal insulation layer, metal substrate and metal foil. It has particular magnetic conductivity, excellent heat dissipation, high mechanical strength, good processing performance etc. Application in various high-performance floppy disk drives, brushless DC motors for computers, complete automatic camera motors and some military cutting-edge technology products. Currently, most metal substrates on the market are copper and aluminum substrates.

    The good thermal conductivity and heat dissipation of ceramic PCB are outstanding advantages compared to metal substrate PCB. But, of course, if your PCB is used in some small power supply products, it does not require much heat dissipation. Therefore, copper and aluminum substrates are suitable, and the cost is much lower.

    The differences between ceramic PCB and high-frequency PCB

    Different materials
    Ceramic circuit board uses ceramic substrate as material, but high-frequency PCB uses high-frequency materials such as Rogers, Arlon, Teflon etc. The dielectric constant is lower, and the frequency communication speed is higher.

    B. Different performance & applications

    Ceramic PCB High-frequency PCB
    • Thermal conductivity
    • Insulation
    • High frequency
    • High speed
    • Refrigeration chips & systems
    • High-power modules
    • High-frequency communications
    • Aviation
    High-frequency ceramic PCB high-frequency communication field involves heat dissipation requirements.

    Also, it needs to make with ceramic substrate and high-frequency material, like high-frequency ceramic PCB are made by Rogers material plus ceramic substrate.

    The differences between ceramic PCB and FR-4 PCB:

    A. Different materials

    Ceramic PCBs are mainly made of inorganic materials such as alumina or aluminum nitride. FR-4 materials are organic materials. The ceramic substrate is fragile, so it can not make lamination. However, FR-4 material can make multi-layer lamination.

    B. Different applications

     Ceramic PCBFR-4 PCB
    • High-power LED lighting
    • High-power module
    • High-frequency communication
    • Rail power
    Private commercial commodities
    All in all, ceramic PCBs have advantages different from other types of PCBs. They are described below.
    • Increased Thermal Conductivity
    • Superior Heat Dissipation
    • Better Durability and Reliability
    • Higher Electrical Insulation Resistance
    • Improved Signal Quality and Performance
    • Space Saving Design Possibilities
    • High-Temperature Operation Capability
    • Cost Efficiency for Mass Production
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    There are several types of circuits which can be used with ceramic PCBs. The following are some examples.
    High-speed circuits
    RF circuits
    Heat dissipation circuits
    Power supply circuits
    Temperature compensation circuits

    Yes, ceramic PCBs are more expensive than traditional FR-4 boards since the ceramic substrate is a new and superior-performance of PCB material.

    The following is a simplified manufacturing process for ceramic PCBs.
    Prepare the raw material → inner layer copper trace etching → laminating → drilling → out layer copper trace → solder mask printing → surface treatment → silkscreen printing → open/short testing → final quality inspection → packaging.

    Yes, we have very rich experience in production of ceramic multilayer PCB. Please get in touch with our sales team to get a free quote for your ceramic PCB fabrication.

    1. The substrates are different;
    2. The usages are different;
    3. Costs are different: the copper-clad ceramic substrate is much more expensive;
    4, Different in production: the ceramic PCB manufacturing process is more difficult.

    When designing ceramic PCBs, we must not take the design lightly and should keep several considerations in mind.
    When designing a ceramic PCB, we should carefully select the dielectric material for the desired application.
    Controlled impedance are always needed in ceramic PCBs, so designers should calculate the impedance value according to the material parameters (Er), copper thickness, copper width/space, dielectric thickness, etc.
    Since ceramic material is much more expensive than FR4 material, a ceramic circuit board design should consider the PCB cost and the overall application price.
    If we identify potential problems early in the design process, we can ensure success in later stages. With careful planning, ceramic PCBs can provide excellent solutions for various applications. Please get in touch with us freely if you have any questions regarding ceramic PCBs.

    Our standard lead time for PCB production is around 1-3 weeks.  But sometimes, we may need a few weeks to buy special ceramic material. So, conditions like material type and technology used on the PCB will determine the exact lead time for ceramic PCB manufacturing.

    The following factors determine the ceramic PCB cost.
    Substrate material (most critical part);
    Quantity per batch;
    Process Technology, such as blind/buried vias;
    Difficulty in manufacturing, such as very tight impedance tolerance, tight copper width tolerance;
    Other special requirements.

    The materials are different:
    Teflon is a kind of polyimide material, which is a special kind of high-performance plastic. But ceramic is a kind of compound made of boron nitride, beryllium oxide and silicon carbide.
    Usages are different:
    Teflon PCBs are always used for microwave and RF applications. But ceramic materials are usually reinforced with a combination of other materials, so ceramic substrates are more widely used.
    PCB production process and techniques are different:
    This is because the characteristics of the two kinds of materials are totally different.