10x More Reliable Electronic Systems

Reliable Electronic SystemsOn the 18th of February, we’re hosting a webinar showcasing some exciting new methods to increase the number of ways reliable electronic systems can be designed. You can register now but first let me tell you a little about why it’s important.

The proliferation of electronics into every product arena can’t be denied. Electronics bring huge benefits in terms of features and functionality to pretty much any device. This means that electronics are being placed in more varied environments — and subjected to more demanding loads — than ever before.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are being installed under the hoods of vehicles, in handheld devices, on motors in home appliances and even in drilling systems used in oil exploration. Combine this with the drive for higher power, longer battery life and smaller designs, and  you see that (PCBs) are really up against some tough challenges. Reliable electronic systems are a must.

Elctronic systems feature everywhere

Electronic systems featured everywhere

Not only do electronics have to survive such harsh conditions and high expectations, they must thrive over long lifetimes to be of value to consumers. Development of mechanical faults, such as a crack in the board or peeling away of metal traces from the substrate could mean, at best, loss of some functionality and, at worst, complete failure of the product or whole system. What’s more, failures in electronics are not often easily repaired. Complete new PCBs or maybe even new products may be needed to regain functionality.

To ensure that companies produce products that meet customer and design expectations, performing simulation of detailed PCBs becomes increasingly important.

Until now, engineers had the option of two approaches to simulating the structural response of a detailed PCB:

  1. Manually assign material properties based on an estimate of the overall percentage of copper in a PCB. Use this value to average the material properties over the whole board, or over select regions.
    While, admittedly,this is a gross simplification,  it has often been used to overcome limitations in simulation processes.
  2. Use scripting or some other third party software to try and get a better representation of the PCB. This approach may include pixel mapping, a process where an image file (even a photo) is used in conjunction with a script to determine whether a region of a board contains copper. This script is then used in an attempt to  map the copper content onto a meshed Finite Element Model (FEM).

In addition to relying on approximations, both of these approaches have speed and accuracy limitations in the simulation of reliable electronic systems.

Fortunately, there is now a better option available with the release of ANSYS 17.0. ANSYS Mechanical now has the ability to take an Electronics Computer Aided Design (ECAD) file and build a PCB geometry very rapidly in ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler. Mechanical can then directly map the trace information from the same ECAD file onto the meshed model. The user controls the mesh resolution (and therefore fidelity) required on the model, as well as the representation of the layers in the board. This automated process  incorporates details quickly and reduces the chance for errors.

Once mapped, the trace data can reveal heat distribution in the board and any thermally induced stress. Once an engineer has an accurate PCB model in Mechanical, vibration simulations can be carried out to determine how the PCB might perform in an engine bay, or when it’s dropped.

Reliable Electronic Systems

Electronic PCB simulation process

Understanding how electronics behave in the increasingly demanding conditions they will be subjected to in use is growing ever more important. ANSYS Mechanical 17.0 makes this an easy and accurate process. Ensuring reliable electronic systems has never been easier than with ANSYS 17.0. Find out even more on our website and don’t forget to register for the webinar!