In recent years, the development of aviation electronics has made for an increasingly digitized collection of pilot systems in aircraft, along with continuously improving aerospace electronics. As an integral part of any electronics, circuit boards are one of the key components you will find in the controls on board a spacecraft. They direct the electrical charges needed to operate the various devices on board while taking up as little space as possible. However, in order to fulfill their duty within what can be a harsh working environment, the circuit boards used on spacecraft must also be sturdier than those used in everyday electronics. To learn more about what differentiates these printed circuit boards (PCBs) from those used in average electronics, you may read on as we discuss these crucial components in aerospace operations.
Circuit Boards for the Aerospace Industry
Aerospace parts must adhere to a very strict set of regulations for their use on aircraft because of the vibration, pressure changes, wide temperature ranges, and more which they will experience during every flight. Additionally, these parts need to be extremely reliable to avoid a serious failure.
In outer space applications, the electronics could be exposed to temperatures as low as negative 150 degrees celsius. This is because in the vacuum of space, there is also no air to transfer heat, so the only way to transfer it is through radiation. Manufacturers typically use certain high temperature laminates, copper, and aluminum substrates in aerospace PCBs so that they can survive these extreme temperatures. Thermal compounds are also used. With so many electronics packed into a relatively tight space, the distance between PCBs may sometimes be within the thousands of an inch, so there must be additional heat protection besides simply leaving spaces for it to dissipate in the air. In aviation, fans may also be used to help dissipate heat.
On an average flight, airplane components and passengers are subject to a decent amount of vibration. In aerospace applications, this is taken to a much higher level with many of the onboard components needing to be able to withstand intense vibration and shock. Though the electronics are typically fastened very securely in the vehicle to avoid as much vibration as possible, they will still need to handle a great deal of stress during regular working conditions. As such, manufacturers will often alter the design of the boards by using pins, as opposed to soldering. Additionally, some of the strategies that make PCBs more resistant to extreme temperatures also make them more resistant to stress. Adding extra protective coatings can reduce the impact of fluctuations, as well as leave a small space between components and the surface of the board.
Another unique challenge for PCBs to overcome in outer space is the higher levels of radiation which can cause damage to equipment. To do this, manufacturers attempt to shield electronics from radiation using various materials while also making components smaller, so there are fewer pieces at risk. In addition, backup components were also created to safeguard against a single major radiation event. Antifuse technology, which creates permanent routes that can conduct electricity between transistors, has also been found to be more resistant to radiation. Still, other types of circuits have been made using thinner layers of material to be more resilient.
Radio waves are used for communication in many aviation systems, including aerospace networks. To ensure that radio communication works effectively, manufacturers must place shielding on specific parts of the PCB and sometimes use antennas. Making transmission lines as short as possible can also help guarantee that radio communications are transmitted well.
Printed circuit boards are integral parts of aerospace electronics that help transfer electrical charges to where they are needed. Besides sourcing high quality aviation-grade components for an assembly, it is also important to conduct regular maintenance and replace parts as necessary. If you are in need of dependable avionics and other aerospace equipment for your business, you can rely on Aviation Gamut for access to an array of items at the top of their class. We invite you to browse our online catalog of available products and make use of our Instant RFQ service to receive competitive quotes for your comparisons. Our team of experts are available 24/7x365 to answer customer inquiries and will reply to RFQ forms in just 15 minutes or less!
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