5G Effect: CCL manufacturer focus on high frequency&speed substrate



It is too obvious that the direction of 5G is irreversible and the major point on PCB is high frequency (HF) and high speed (HS) laminates. So, CCL, as the substrates of PCB making, has becoming a hot potato by industry.


The market has been without "hot topic" for a long time, then the appear of 5G telecommunication has been a new power in PCB industry of China. In short time, China is the global leader in 5G technology and standard, it's mass construction of 5G base stations and marketing of end devices, must result in the rising demand on PCB volume and pricing. This has given the industry new technical challenge and flexiblity of demanding.


If we watch in longer period, the hiden value may be embodied in "revolution in industry chain". The industries including cloud compute, big data, IoT, AI, and others will breed numerous new business modes, results in many new types of 5G hardwares.


We all aware the 5G hardware will becoming high frequency, high speed, highly integrated, slim and smaller. They require the drill size in relevant PCB goes even smaller and circuit layout with higher density, more designs that to save space such as back drill, etc. The manufacturing technology of PCB will face continous challenging in availablity and quality control. There are two ways for PCB to be with HF, HS features, one is requiring higher capability of PCB making, the other one is to use HF, HS CCL. We see it is too difficult and slow to develop the modern PCB manufacturing technology into the next level, so most of the PCB manufacturers prefer to use a new type of CCL.


CCL, copper clad laminate, is the key material in PCB making. It plays about 20%~40% of the cost in a PCB. Nowadays, most HF&HS CCL manufacturers are in USA and Japan, such as Rogers, Taconic, Isola and Panansonic. They have industry top technolical capability and dominating in the industry chain. They are merely effected by the cycling of hardware revulation.


According to ITU (international telecommunication union), there are three major types of application of 5G.

  • eMMB (enhanced Mobile Broadband)

  • mMT C (massive Machine Type Communications)

  • uRLLC (Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications)

eMMB

It is for high volume mobile brandband applications, including 3D high resolution video, AR/VR, etc. This is the most common understanding of 5G.


mMT C

This is more focused on intellegent home, intellengent company and city governing.


URLLC

This will open a big market too. They includes: Unmanned Driving, IOV, Industial automation, remote medical, etc.


All lf them above points to that 5G will change almost every corner of the modern society.


Comparing to 4G/LTE, 5G has a net speed 1000+ times higher. The use of Massive MIMO, demanding of broader band and mm wave spectrum defines a very clear difference between 5G and 4G.


For example, the antenna system under Sub-6GHz between 5G and 4G, the only common point is the spectrum while depending on Massive MIMO, 5G has a notable progress of the antenna quantity, integrity and complexity. There could be 64 separate in/out in one antenna! Wow, that means the PCB to carry all these functions must be with low DK, very high coherence, stable perform at changing temperature and humidity, plus flame resistant.


And since 5G adopts mmW(millimeter wave band) such as 28GHz, 39GHz, etc. They have smaller wave lengths, which requires slim circuit material.


Yet consider the 5G has a feature of multi-channels, the circuit design must be smaller to reduce the base station size, highly integrated multi-layer PCB is prefered from 10 layers to 20+ and 30+ layers.


Apart from using HF/HS CCL to satisfy the data transfer of 5G, the future of CCL still needs to be "green, slim&light, surrounding self-adaption". The direction to meet these requirements are "lead free compatibility, halogen-free material, rigid-flex, HDI, high TG, low CTE, etc.

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