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How to Determine the Number of Layers in a PCB? Steps & Factors Determining PCB Layers!

Several different types of printed circuit board assembly would like to meet the product’s needs, including single-sided, multi-layer, and even flexible boards. These circuit boards indeed have a unique number of layers that add to their design, making them suitable for various tasks.

assembled PCB

It can be challenging to determine the layers in a PCB, but we’re here to help you learn the basics so you can determine the number of layers in a PCB! A printed circuit board may have a single layer of dielectric and several layers of conductive materials. As these layers are connected, they bear electrical circuits that are often related. Printed circuit board distribution design determines the number of layers and their dimensions.

Users always wonder how many layers will suffice and whether a two-layer PCB or a three-layer PCB will work nicely. There are many steps to consider to determine the number of layers in a PCB. Let’s check them out!

Steps to Determine Number of Layers in a PCB!

STEP 1: Decide on The Number of Layers to Start With

PCBs with 1 or 2 Layers for Home Prototyping

Only use 1- or 2-layer PCB for elementary boards, breakouts, or homemade circuits. For interfaces with controlled impedance (USB, Ethernet, LVDS, etc.), don’t use 1- or 2-layer PCBs. Try using at least a four-layer PCB in this situation.

4 Layer PCB – Basic or Low-Cost Boards and Breakouts

Often use a four-layer PCB if at all necessary. The cost differential between 2- and 4-layers PCBs is not significant, but the 4-layer PCB is superior. Breakouts, compact and plain boards are recommended. Always use Baseboards or other microcontroller boards, but not CPU boards with a memory interface.

6 Layer PCB – Low-Cost, Large-Area Boards

6 Layer PCBs are used in some PC motherboards. Suitable for high-volume or large-format boards.

Cost-effective 8-Layer PCB

The price gap between 8 Layer and 10 Layer PCB is not huge, but 10 Layer PCB is superior.

10 Layer PCB- Viable for SODIMM Device on The Module

This is the highest number of layers that will fit into a SODIMM socket with a thickness of 1mm. In designs with several control domains, this 10-layer PCB has more room for power planes than an 8-layer PCB.

Heavy Business Boards or Boards with Several Tracks Have 12 Layers

I often recommend a 12 layer stack up for the designs, especially for industrial PCs, and it gives you 4 solid ground planes or two additional signal layers.

panelized PCBs

STEP 2: Estimate from The Eyes

Even though the PCB layers are strongly laminated, the board edges can be separated.

PCB prototype manufacturers always advise to keep an eye out for one or more white matter layers situated between the circuit board layers, which are actually the shielding layers of every two circuit board layers, to prevent short-circuiting between separate PCB layers.

More insulation layers are smushed between the PCB copper layers on multilayer printed circuit boards. By counting the number of insulation layers, you can determine the number of PCB layers.

STEP 3: Inspection via a Hole or Blind Inspection!

Examine the via holes or blind vias to determine the number of PCB layers. The theory is focused primarily on the use of through-hole technology in multilayer circuit board circuit connection. By defining the vias, we can figure out how many layers there are on the PCB.

The pieces are clustered on one side of single-sided PCB boards, while the pins are concentrated on the other. If a multilayer PCB is being used, holes in the board must be drilled so that member pins can move through the other side, and we can see that the components’ pins are welded to the other side. However, vias of this kind are only used to bind pairs of inner layers and are not visible on the PCB surfaces. As a result, determining circuit board layers by inspecting vias is minimal but straightforward.

Factors to Determine Number of Layers in a PCB!

PCB Cad drawing

According to the PCB assembly manufacturer, several factors play a crucial role in determining the number of layers in a PCB! Let’s go through it to know more!

1) Applications: Determining the intent is critical. Computer types, electronics circuit sophistication, and power demand are some of the purposes of the application!

2) Device Operating Frequency: Determining the application’s operation frequency is also important. The purpose and power of a printed circuit board are determined by the frequency at which it is used. Multiple layers printed circuit board is needed for higher processing speed and power.

3) Cost of Production: Another factor to remember is the cost of manufacturing. The cost would rise as the number of layers increases. If applications demand a higher processing speed and power, the price will increase as well.

4) Manufacturing Time: When we talk about Quick Turn PCB Assembly, we’re talking about the time it takes to make a single, or multiple layers printed circuit board. Many of the parameters listed above are influenced by the lead time.

5) Density: The density can also influence layer selection. Pin density is a different expression for the same thing. If the pin density is one, the printed circuit board is likely to be a single layer. The number of layers increases as pin density decreases. E.g., if the pin density is 0.2, the printed circuit board must have at least ten layers.

Final Thoughts!

These were some of the steps and factors to keep in mind to determine the number of PCBs layers! You must have understood the basic concept behind the determination of the number of layers in PCBs, and I hope this article was helpful to you while selecting the number of layers in a PCB!

Author Bio:

Laura Stevens works as a digital marketing manager at PCBGOGO. PCBGOGO manufactures high-quality PCBs and provides the best PCB assembly services that are affordable and effective. In her free time, she writes informational blogs and articles that aim at helping people.



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