FR-4

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FR-4 (or FR4) is a grade designation assigned to glass-reinforced epoxy laminate sheets, tubes, rods and printed circuit boards (PCB). FR-4 is a composite material composed of woven fiberglass cloth with an epoxy resin binder that is flame resistant (self-extinguishing).

"FR" stands for flame retardant, and denotes that safety of flammability of FR-4 is in compliance with the standard UL94V-0. FR-4 is created from the constituent materials (epoxy resin, woven glass fabric reinforcement, brominated flame retardant, etc.) by NEMA in 1968.

FR-4 glass epoxy is a popular and versatile high-pressure thermoset plastic laminate grade with good strength to weight ratios. With near zero water absorption, FR-4 is most commonly used as an electrical insulator possessing considerable mechanical strength. The material is known to retain its high mechanical values and electrical insulating qualities in both dry and humid conditions. These attributes, along with good fabrication characteristics, lend utility to this grade for a wide variety of electrical and mechanical applications.

NEMA is the regulating authority for FR-4 and other insulating laminate grades. Grade designations for glass epoxy laminates are: G10, G11, FR4 and FR5. Of these, FR4 is the grade most widely in use today. G-10, the predecessor to FR-4, lacks FR-4's self-extinguishing flammability characteristics. Hence, FR-4 has since[when?] replaced G-10 in most applications.

FR-4 epoxy resin systems typically employ bromine, a halogen, to facilitate flame-resistant properties in FR-4 glass epoxy laminates. Some applications where thermal destruction of the material is a desirable trait will still use G-10 non flame resistant.

Properties[edit]

Typical physical and electrical properties of FR-4 are as follows. LW (length wise, warp yarn direction) and CW (cross wise, fill yarn direction) refer to the fiber orientations in the plane of the board (in-plane) that are perpendicular to one another. The through-plane direction is also referred to as the z-axis.

Parameter Value
Specific gravity/density 1,850 kg/m3 (3,120 lb/cu yd)
Water absorption −0.125 in < 0.10%
Temperature index 140 °C (284 °F)
Thermal conductivity, through-plane 0.29 W/m·K,[1] 0.343 W/m·K[2]
Thermal conductivity, in-plane 0.81 W/m·K,[1] 1.059 W/m·K[2]
Rockwell hardness 110 M scale
Bond strength > 1,000 kg (2,200 lb)
Flexural strength (A; 0.125 in) - LW > 440 MPa (64,000 psi)
Flexural strength (A; 0.125 in) - CW > 345 MPa (50,000 psi)
Tensile strength (0.125 in) LW > 310 MPa (45,000 psi)
Izod impact strength - LW > 54 J/m (10 ft·lb/in)
Izod impact strength - CW > 44 J/m (8 ft·lb/in)
Compressive strength - flatwise > 415 MPa (60,200 psi)
Dielectric breakdown (A) > 50 kV
Dielectric breakdown (D48/50) > 50 kV
Dielectric strength 20 MV/m
Relative permittivity (A) 4.8
Relative permittivity (D24/23) 4.8
Dissipation factor (A) 0.017
Dissipation factor (D24/23) 0.018
Dielectric constant permittivity 4.70 max., 4.35 @ 500 MHz, 4.34 @ 1 GHz
Glass transition temperature Can vary, but is over 120 °C
Young's modulus - LW 3.5×10^6 psi (24 GPa)
Young's modulus - CW 3.0×10^6 psi (21 GPa)
Coefficient of thermal expansion - x-axis 1.4×10−5 K−1
Coefficient of thermal expansion - y-axis 1.2×10−5 K−1
Coefficient of thermal expansion - z-axis 7.0×10−5 K−1
Poisson's ratio - LW 0.136
Poisson's ratio - CW 0.118
LW sound speed 3602 m/s
SW sound speed 3369 m/s
LW Acoustic impedance 6.64 MRayl

Applications[edit]

Printed circuit boards[edit]

FR-4 is the primary insulating backbone upon which the vast majority of rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs) are produced. A thin layer of copper foil is laminated to one, or both sides of an FR-4 glass epoxy panel. These are commonly referred to as "copperclad laminates."

FR-4 copper-clad sheets are fabricated with circuitry interconnections etched into copper layers to produce printed circuit boards. More sophisticated and complex FR-4 printed circuit boards are produced in multiple layers, also known as "multilayer circuitry".

Specifications[edit]

When ordering a copper clad laminate board, the FR-4 thickness and the copper foil thickness must be specified separately.

In the USA, FR-4 thickness is specified in thou or inches, and common thicknesses range from 10 thou (0.010 in, 254 µm) to 3 inches (76 mm).

In the USA, copper foil thickness is specified in units of ounces per square foot (oz/ft2), commonly referred to simply as ounce. Common thicknesses are 1 oz/ft2 (300 g/m2), 2 oz/ft2 (600 g/m2), and 3 oz/ft2 (900 g/m2). These work out to thicknesses of 34.1 µm (1.34 thou), 68.2 µm (2.68 thou), and 102.3 µm (4.02 thou), respectively. Some PCB manufacturers refer to 1 oz/ft2 copper foil as having a thickness of 35 µm (may also be referred to as 35 μ, 35 micron, or 35 mic).

  • 1/0 - denotes 1 oz/ft2 copper one side, with no copper on the other side.
  • 1/1 - denotes 1 oz/ft2 copper on both sides.
  • H/0 or H/H - denotes 0.5 oz/ft2 copper on one or both sides, respectively.
  • 2/0 or 2/2 - denotes 2 oz/ft2 copper on one or both sides, respectively.

Other applications[edit]

FR-4 is also used in the construction of relays, switches, standoffs, busbars, washers, arc shields, transformers and screw terminal strips.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Azar, K; Graebner J. E. (1996). "Experimental Determination of Thermal Conductivity of Printed Wiring Boards". Proceedings of the Twelfth IEEE SEMI-THERM Symposium: 169–182. doi:10.1109/STHERM.1996.545107. 
  2. ^ a b Sarvar, F.; N. J. Poole; P. A. Witting (1990). "PCB glass-fibre laminates: Thermal conductivity measurements and their effect on simulation". Journal of Electronic Materials 19 (12): 1345–1350. doi:10.1007/bf02662823.