The world is becoming smart each day due to IoT, or the Internet of Things. Your life becomes easier when you connect every device to the internet or Wi-Fi. These days there are many smart homes and products which will stay there in the future. The IoT design is a specific area of electronics design that has boosted the PCB industry.
However, the development of a revolutionary design is not so simple even though the IoT devices are smart and seem simple, it is not so. You need a well-designed PCB for such a device. The PCB should have specific components to meet the needs of the smart world.
The IoT design involves rigid-flex circuits with certain challenges and physical interfaces which are not there in ordinary PCBs. You need certain tools for a smart PCB, like PADS, Xpedition, and other such simulation tools.
Now, smart devices are managed through remote apps, however, it is just a little part of the IoT. The technology is working in big industries like agriculture, transport, biomedical, and consumer electronics. It involves wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks. So all such devices need well-designed hardware in the form of PCBs.
You have to follow certain rules while designing an IoT-based PCB. It involves a precise evaluation and focusing on the power management, sensors, and the wireless connection, and the Printed Circuit Board should be compatible with all these factors. The design of such printed circuit boards is not like the conventional boards.
You have to consider the size, layout, signal strength, security, power, and thermal management while designing a smart PCB. Let’s look at all these factors individually.
As IoT devices are small, they need tiny components for signal transmission. Manufacturers use MEMS technology to develop modern sensors because they are economical, reliable, and help develop a small layout. Such a board should have well-integrated components, precise placement of the processor and MCU, and the Wi-Fi interface. Besides, the analog areas should be separate from the digital areas.
In the case of IoT, the printed circuit board should have multiple layers to enable traces’ routing. Such a PCB has stringent constraints when it comes to EMC or electromagnetic compatibility.
Moreover, high-density components need high-density interconnections or HDI to help reduce the pads’ size and increase the number of vias or holes.
The PCB should have high-end sensors for precise signals, free from the coupling. The signals should not interfere with the wireless signals and power lines. They should work well in all kinds of operating conditions.
Smart technology and IoT have resulted in innovative materials for developing PCBs, including flexible boards. A flexible PCB is designed after considering the material’s mechanical structure and position of the electric components. You can place many components on a flexible PCB, so it is also suitable for wearable devices.
A flexible PCB has simple wiring than a rigid PCB and it stays strong during mechanical stresses, which are often hard to ignore.
You have to consider the battery life of the IoT devices, and the power management helps you to enhance the battery function. You must have a well-integrated circuit in terms of power. The circuit should have functional blocks within the power cost or budget.
The designer of the PCB design PCB design should estimate the power consumption in a device’s multiple operating conditions. You must know that the wireless transceivers sometimes come up with absorption peaks while the transition from an Off state to an On state. Besides, considering the power consumption during a battery’s deep sleep mode is also essential because it helps determine the battery function.
Though the internet world has unlimited benefits, you become vulnerable to lots of threats. The IoT involves a shared network, so you cannot escape from attacks without good security. The water, gas, and electricity meters also become unsafe due to IoT devices. Similarly, the electro-medical device is also at risk as it has highly sensitive data.
Security software is not sufficient in this case, so the designer has to consider it while developing any hardware. However, the cryptographic engines provide high-end security through encrypted algorithms, including DESM, AES, as well as SHA.
An IoT device is very small and runs with a battery, and it has a slot-free cover, so it needs proper thermal management. The designer should take care of the hot spots while designing a PCB. These hot areas happen when their temperature gets over 150 °C, but it can be managed through traces geometry, like the width and height ratios. You must provide copper plating to thermal vias and should add the copper planes for thermal management.
The IoT PCB has a limited area, so the designer has to provide the grounding area carefully for proper RF connectivity and heat dissipation. Sometimes the designer focuses on the simulation of the thermal air and provides it through both 2D and 3D models. Whereas, the tools like ECAD and MCAD help in this case.
As IoT devices involve wireless connections, they should be certified in terms of RF components. These certificates have different names depending on the country as FCC works in the United States, and Canada has IC. Whereas CE is used in Europe, moreover, some additional certificates are also required, including WEEE and PTCRB, which ensure the standard emission of the radiations.
The certification process becomes easier if you use a pre-certified RF module because you can use it in the device directly, and you don’t have to pay for an expensive certification.
Due to smart solutions, more design tools are emerging for designing the IoT PCB that involves the AMS or analog signals, circuit analysis, simulation, and some models.
The strength of the connections is validated through simulation, so it is essential to consider. Well-designed software can simulate a circuit’s schematic by taking care of various design parameters, like time and frequency domain, operating point, sensitivity, worst conditions, and the Monte Carlo analysis.
The designer also has to consider the size, battery life, charging time, and power usage in the case of wearable devices.
You must focus on the pcb fabrication process and assembly before making it. As a smart device has less space, a flexible PCB works for it because you can bend it as you want without affecting the device.
Besides, the manufacturing tools and equipment should be strong enough to bear vibrations and shocks. Other than a flexible PCB, the designer can use the SiP technology for the simple manufacturing of the IoT PCB. The SiP or System-In Packages help to use a complex analog, RF, and a digital system through a single chip. However, the chip works just like a traditional chip.
The IoT device should have a consistent network connection like the 24/7 operation works in the industrial applications having a 100 % uptime.
Likewise, it is essential for a PCB to have constant power to work consistently. The battery life of the portable devices should be extended for high efficiency.
Whether it’s the PCB design or some other stage of the IoT device development, the verification of the manufacturability of the product is essential. The DFT or Design for Test tool works in this case and helps to find any defect in the PCB before using it.
Likewise, the DFMA analysis helps to detect any issues while PCB designing, and you can resolve them before producing the PCB.
Similarly, you have to consider the security of the IoT devices to avoid any counterfeiting of a PCB that often happens in metrology applications. Manufacturers are now developing advanced technologies to create the IoT PCB. Like, they use the coded IDs for every PCB layer, so it is hard to replicate it.
So, you can create a well-designed and well-assembled IoT PCB by considering important factors.
The IoT design involves rigid-flex circuits with certain challenges and physical interfaces which are not there in ordinary PCBs. Smart devices are managed through remote apps, however, it is just a little part of the IoT. The technology is working in big industries like agriculture, transport, biomedical, and consumer electronics.
IoT involves wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks. So all such devices need well-designed hardware in the form of PCBs. You need a well-designed PCB for such a device. The PCB should have specific components to meet the needs of the smart world.
You have to follow certain factors while designing an IoT-based PCB. It involves a precise evaluation and focusing on the power management, sensors, and the wireless connection, and the PCB should be compatible with all these factors.
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