FR-4

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FR-4 (or FR4) is a NEMA grade designation for glass-reinforced epoxy laminate material. 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 the material complies with the standard UL94V-0. The designation FR-4 was created 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.

Grade designations for glass epoxy laminates are: G10, G11, FR4, FR5 and FR6. 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]

FR-4 does not specify specific material, but instead a grade of material, as defined by NEMA LI 1-1998 specification. Typical physical and electrical properties of FR-4 are as follows. The abbreviations LW (lengthwise, warp yarn direction) and CW (crosswise, fill yarn direction) refer to the conventional perpendicular fiber orientations in the XY plane of the board (in-plane). In terms of Cartesian coordinates, lengthwise is along the x-axis, crosswise is along the y-axis, and the z-axis is referred to as the through-plane direction. Keep in mind that the values for the parameters listed below are an example for a certain manufacturer's material. Each manufacturer will have slightly different values for the parameters listed below. It's better to check the datasheet of the specific material being used. Verifying the actual values is very important for high frequency designs.

Parameter Value
Specific gravity/density 1.850 g/cm3 (0.0668 lb/cu in)
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 > 415 MPa (60,200 psi)
Flexural strength (A; 0.125 in) - CW > 345 MPa (50,000 psi)
Dielectric breakdown (A) > 50 kV
Dielectric breakdown (D48/50) > 50 kV
Dielectric strength 20 MV/m
Relative permittivity (A) 4.4
Relative permittivity (D24/23) 4.4
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 1.4×105 K−1
Coefficient of thermal expansion - y-axis 1.2×105 K−1
Coefficient of thermal expansion - z-axis 7.0×105 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

where:

LW
Lengthwise
CW
Crosswise
PF
Perpendicular to laminate face

Applications[edit]

FR-4 is a common material for printed circuit boards (PCBs). 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.

When ordering a copper clad laminate board, the FR-4 and copper thickness can both vary and so are specified separately. 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.

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

See also[edit]

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.