Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

Major Considerations When Choosing Electronic Interconnect Cables For Your PCB

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

Electronic-Interconnect-CablesWhen new clients come to us asking for assistance in bringing a product to market, it's often because they've become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options when it comes to PCB assembly and manufacturing.

Rapid technological changes have created an environment where even seemingly-minor issues like those of electronic interconnect cables are far more important than they seem.

Electronic interconnect cables are exactly what they sound like.  The wiring on the underside of a PCB is designed to carry current, not data.  So on a modern PCB with multiple processing units and other "smart" components, they need additional wiring to carry the data between those components.  Additionally, they're needed to carry data to/from any external sensors, displays, or other components the user may interact with.

They're actually a very key issue to creating a circuit board, and a final product, that lives up to the initial design specs.

Major Factors That Influence The Success  Of Electronic Interconnections

1 - Wire Materials

As with standard electronics, your major choices in wiring boil down to copper vs fiber, with copper being the more cost-efficient option.  However, copper is often not the savings one might expect.  The high speeds of fiber optic cabling mean that you often need several copper wires in place of one fiber line, negating most or all of the cost savings.

Good design labs have simulators in place that can determine optimal wiring materials, in terms of lines vs cost.

2 - Stackup Planes

Very often, a single layer of interconnect wiring isn't enough to support the data needs of a circuit board.  However, due to interference, they can't be layered directly onto each other.  There has to be a separate layer of grounding planes to keep the signals from interfering.  In modern PCBs, there can sometimes be up to fifty of these alternating stacks, all sandwiched onto the back of the board.

High-precision equipment is necessary to layer those elements correctly, so that they don't interfere with each other.

3 - Insulating materialsEMS-Electronics-Services

The insulation around electronic interconnect cables -also called dilectrics- can make a big difference.  This is a case where cost and performance are almost exactly aligned.  Older, cheaper materials such as fiberglass-epoxy FR-4 provide adequate insulation, but can have heat and interference limitations.  Newer materials like Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon provide better heat protection, and more signal containment.

A good PCB assembly partner will talk you through the choice here, and may have options for mix-and-matching materials to create a best-of-both-worlds solution.

4 - Latency

Latency is simply "how long does it take data to travel from A to B."  Lower latencies are almost always better, within the confines of existing processor/memory capabilities.  Latency is affected by all of the above, and more, and is one of the key things a good PCB prototyping and assembly service looks to optimize.

This is also a great example of where full-service electronics services can help you lower your costs.  Latency is affected by physical distance as well, so a manufacturer with good simulation services can find optimal combinations of layout, materials, and wiring to bring the lowest latencies at the lowest costs.

Are you looking to bring a new electronics product to market?  Contact the experts at ZenTech today for a full consultation on our many value-added service offerings. 

New Call-to-Action

Topics: Electronic Interconnect Cables, interconnect cables

Electronics Manufacturing: From the Imagination to Store Shelves - It's All Interconnected

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

When you look at a PC board, what do you see? To the untrained eye, the makeup of these electronic manufacturingboards may seem chaotic and confusing. An electronics professional, on the other hand, would see a symphony of microchips, all in harmony with interconnected circuits. The completed board brings life to the technological gadgets, tools, and devices that all of us depend on each day, and its the perfect interconnection of the various components and circuitry formed by copper wire tracing that makes this possible.

 In the same way, all of the ideas, people, plans, components, machinery, and testing involved with the design and manufacture of PC boards are also interconnected. Even though there's a lot going on throughout the process, every thing and every person are intrinsically linked to one another, and the finished product depends on this connection. From start to finish, it's important that you never lose sight of the big picture and how everything works together for good.  

Electronic Interconnection: Everything Counts  

Ideas Become Designs    

Like most professionals working within the technological sector, you're very inventive and creative. You are constantly looking for ways to make things better and easier for the world through advanced electronic devices. As you think and imagine throughout the day, you begin to develop ideas. Those ideas then become the basis for creating plans and designs.

Designs Become Roadmaps    

Once you've determined what it is that you want to accomplish with your ideas, you're ready to move on to the design state. Here, you and your team of skilled engineers work together to bring your ideas to life. You put your heads together to determine how each system component will work together to complete the function or functions that you have imagined for your product.

Roadmap Plans Set Assembly Into Motion    

It is only when you have been able to nail down the final details and approve your team's designs that you can move forward with the assembly process. The design schematics will provide you with the information that you need in order to purchase the required system components and parts, and to determine how to go about actually assembling the device. Should labor from your employees be relied upon, or will the project require the use of robotics and specialized machinery? This phase of the product will offer these answers.

Assembly Yields Products     electronic manufacturing company

Regardless of whether you're creating a single working prototype or are attempting to fulfill a larger scale order of the new device, the assembly process will yield all of the products that you and/or your customers have demanded.

Products Demand Testing    

Even when the assembly and manufacture of a product is completed, it's still not ready to go out to buyers. First, specialized workers and equipment must be utilized in order to test the functionality, efficiency, and safety of the devices that have been developed by your company. Should any defects or problems be detected during this process, you may need to evaluate the underlying issue to ensure that it hasn't corrupted an entire batch. 

Tested Products are Sold to Buyers    

Once a product has been tested and approved for sale, they can be offered to your customers for purchase and for use. Your buyers will make use of your device, and are very likely to review their opinions on its efficiency and effectiveness, or make suggestions for future products.

Buyers Inspire Ideas      

Customer reviews are beneficial to electronics companies like your own. By taking the time to learn the thoughts and opinions of those using your devices, you can draw inspiration for how you can continue to make products that meet consumer demand. 

Just as the parts of a board work together to improve the lives of people throughout the world, every step in the process of developing PCBs is interconnected and important. You'll never look at the cable interconnects and tracing of a PC board again. 

New Call-to-Action

Topics: electronic manufacturing, Contract Electronic Manufacturers, Electronic Interconnect Cables