PCB Assembly for Automotive Industry


Just a few decades ago, it would be difficult to find an American car with any computer technology in it. However, slowly but surely the international car market became more sophisticated. More and more computerized systems began to sneak in, whether for core system functionality, generating service alerts or enabling safety features. Today, no new car can run without an onboard computer — and those computers need sophisticated automotive printed circuit boards to make them run.

Because there are so many different types of electronic systems in today’s cars, the types of PCBs needed for automotive electronics vary greatly. The same car may require flex PCBs, rigid PCBs and rigid-flex PCBs for different technologies. As people demand more accessories and features for their cars that are powered by electronic components, the need for automotive PCBs of varying types is only growing.

Car PCB manufacturers need to provide a wide variety of PCB options. The kinds of systems and operations that now use printed circuit boards for enhanced efficiency and safety include rear LED lights and running lights, transmission controls, and comfort control units. You can also find car PCBs managing engines, entertainment systems, digital displays, radar, GPS, power relays timing systems, mirror controls and a lot more.

Not only do automotive circuit board manufacturers need to offer a variety of types of PCBs, but those who manufacture, assemble and ship printed circuit boards for the car industry must also be able to supply boards with the types of materials that can stand tough use and support long life cycles. This means high-temperature PCBs that allow the PCB to dissipate heat quickly, are crucial.

Contact East India Technologies Today for All of Your Automotive printed Circuit Boards

East India technologies has the ability to manufacture virtually any type of printed circuit board you may need for your automotive applications. Our PCBs are ISO 9001 certified, so you know they are reliable, durable printed circuit boards that will last. EITPL PCBs are also competitively priced, which is vital to running a successful automobile manufacturing operation and improving your bottom line.

No matter what type you’re looking for, we are your one-stop shop for automotive printed circuit boards and beyond. We manufacture, assemble and ship all of our PCBs so you can enjoy great lead times and clear communication. Quality is crucial when it comes to automotive PCBs, and our reputation proves that East India Technologies can provide you with all the quality you need in printed circuit boards. Reach us for free and no-obligation automotive PCB quote.

PCB Assembly for Automotive Properties and Design Considerations

Electronic elements have been playing an increasingly active role in automotives. Currently, a top-level vehicle contains more than 200 electronic control units some of them are sensors and processors applied in car cockpit. It can be concluded that value of electronic products serving for automotives lies in dynamical system, body and chassis and majority of them are concerned with digital power.

Application of electronic systems in automotives aims to increase auto performance, covering three aspects:

  1. Environment improvement refers to fuel saving, tail gas reduction, fuel transformation from gasoline, natural gas, bio-fuel to hybrid power and pure power. Electric vehicles, thus, have become a strategic direction for automotive industry.
  2. Security enhancement lies in traffic accident reduction, ranging from air bag, radar monitoring, stereo camera, infrared monitoring and automatic avoidance to autonomous driving. Currently, autonomous vehicles are attracting majority attention and invest.
  3. Convenience and comfort is generally rooted in audio, video display, air-conditioner, computer, mobile communication, internet, navigation and electronic toll collection for considerations of convenience and humanization.

Fundamental Requirement for Automotive PCBs

Quality Assurance Requirement

A basic demand of long-term quality assurance for manufacturers or distributors lies in a sound quality management system, that is, ISO 9001 from international perspective. Owing to particularity of automotive industry, three leading automotive manufacturers from North America co-established a quality management system in 1994 uniquely for automotive industry, At the beginning of 21st century, a new quality administration system was published by world automotive manufacturers based on regulations of ISO 9001

As technical regulations for automotive industry around the globe, ISO/IATF 16949 integrates special requirement for automotive industry and focuses on defects prevention, quality fluctuation and waste reduction in the supply chain of automotive components.

Therefore, the first certificate automotive PCB manufacturers have to achieve is ISO/IATF16949 prior to their genuine entry into auto market.

Basic Requirement on Performance

High reliability

Automotive reliability mainly comes in 2 aspects: one is service life during which control units and electronic components normally work whereas the other one is environmental resistance which allows automotive control units and electronic components to excellently behave in extreme environment.

The average service life of automotives is from 10 to 12 years during which only components or vulnerable parts can be replaced. In other words, electronic system and PCBs have to feature such service year as that of automotives.

Vehicles tend to be affected by climate and environment in the process of application, ranging from freezing cold, extreme heat and long-term shining and rain. Apart from those, they have to suffer from environmental changes led by heat generated due to working electronic components and systems. So do automotive electronic systems and PCBs. automotive electronic systems have to defeat the following harshness in the environment including temperature, humidity, rain, acid smoke, vibration, electromagnetic interference (EMI) and current surge.

Light weight and miniaturization

Light weight and miniaturization are beneficial to fuel saving, which results from light weight and miniaturization of each component and circuit board. For example, the volume of automotive-applied ECU (Electronic Control Unit) was 1,200cm3 at the beginning of 21st century while that has been shrinked by four times at least. Light weight and miniaturization of PCBs derive from density improvement, area reduction, thinness and multiple layers.

Performance Properties of Automotive PCBs

Multiple Types

As combinations of mechanical and electronic devices, modern vehicle technologies integrate traditional techniques and up-to-date scientific technologies. Different parts depend on electronic devices with different functions, leading to applications of PCBs with different missions.

Based on distinction in terms of substrate material of PCB assembly Services for automotives, they can be classified into inorganic ceramic-based PCBs and organic resin-based PCBs. The leading property of ceramic-based PCBs is high heat resistance and excellent dimensional stability, applicable for engine system in highly-thermal environment. Nevertheless, ceramic-based PCBs feature bad manufacturability, leading to a high cost of circuit boards. With the development of newly-developed resin substrate with increased heat resistance, resin-based PCBs are mostly applied in majority of modern vehicles.

One general rule is followed: PCBs using substrate materials with different performances are applied in different sections of a vehicle, responsible for implementation of different functions. The following table demonstrates PCB type compatible with part of vehicle devices or instrument.

Vehicle Devices PCB Types
Speedometer; air conditioner Single/double-layer PCB
Single/double-layer flexible PCB
Car stereo; monitor Double-layer PCB
Multi-layer PCB
Flexible PCB
Automotive communication devices; wireless location appliances; security control system Multi-layer PCB
Flexible PCB
Engine system; power transmission control system Metal-core PCB
Rigid-flex PCB
Vehicle power controller; navigation device Embedded PCB

Reliability Requirement on PCBs at Different Sections of Vehicle

As a type of transportation tool concerning public security, automotives belong to a range of products with high reliability. Apart from ordinary dimensions, appearance and performance requirement on mechanics and electronics, a series of tests concerning reliability have to be implemented on them.

Thermal Cycling Test (TCT)

5 levels are set in accordance with different sections of a vehicle. Below table summed up thermal cycling temp for PCBs on diverse sections of vehicle:

Vehicle Section Level Low Temperature High Temperature
Within vehicle body A -40°C 85°C
Vehicle chassis below B -40°C 125°C
Above engine C -40°C 145°C
Transmission parts D -40°C 155°C
Within engine E -40°C 165°C

Thermal Shock Test (TST)

It’s quite normal that automotive PCBs are applied in extreme heat environment, which is especially challenging for heavy copper PCBs since they have to suffer from both external heat and heat resulting from their own bodies. Thus, higher requirement is called for heat resistance of automotive PCBs.

To take part in thermal shock test, automotive PCBs have to be immersed in solder paste with a high temperature of 260°C or 288°C for 10 seconds three times, after which qualified PCBs feature no issues such as lamination, bumps or copper crack. Nowadays, lead-free soldering has been used in PCB assembly  for automotive with a relatively high soldering temperature, which adds more necessity to thermal shock test.

Temperature-Humidity Bias (THB) Test

Automotive PCBs have to go through numerous and dynamic surroundings including rainy days and humid environment, which makes it necessary to carry out THB test that is also capable of inspecting PCB CAF (Conductive Anodic Filament) mobility. CAF just occurs in the following situations: between adjacent vias on circuit board, adjacent vias and wires, adjacent wires and adjacent layers. Insulativity in those situations decreases or even leads to shortcuts. Insulation resistance should be determined by distance between vias, wires and layers.