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EDADOC is one of the biggest providers of PCB design and manufacturing services in China, with a long history in automotive electronics design and manufacturing. I recently conducted an email interview with EDADOC R&D Technical Research Manager William Zhou and Brand Planning Specialist Wen Ling, who collaborated on their answers. We discussed the challenges related to designing and fabricating automotive PCBs, the opportunities in this segment, and the trends they see in the market for autonomous and electric vehicles.
Edy Yu: Please tell us about your company and how you serve the automotive electronics segment.
EDADOC: EDADOC Co. Ltd. was established in 2003, and our focus is high-speed PCB design, PCB panel manufacturing, SMT processing and supply chain services. We also have a long history in automotive electronics. In terms of regulation compliance, our facilities can manufacture PCBs and SMT assemblies that comply with the RoHS initiative and halogen-free requirements. We also offer lead-free reflow soldering processes. Our facilities have established very effective quality management systems.
Our PCB facility and SMT facility have passed IATF 16949 qualification for the automotive industry, which strictly controls production processes. We also have partner relationships with many well-known automotive electronics manufacturers. Our product portfolio covers all systems of automotive electronics and we now have design engineers who specialize in that area; there are engineers and technicians in our PCBA facility who only work on automotive product.
Yu: Are you primarily designing electronics for the domestic Chinese auto market, or for the global auto market?
EDADOC: Today, our customers are mainly China mainland automotive electronics manufacturers, or subsidiaries of global automotive electronics manufacturers located in China. The Chinese government now attaches great importance to the automotive electronics industry, especially new-energy vehicles. China is now the biggest R&D country, with new products and technologies emerging every day.
Yu: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in designing PCBs for automobile electronics?
EDADOC: There are three main challenges. The first one is line density and cost. Generally, the size of automotive electronics PCBs is small, and layer count is not high. Therefore, the footprint is rather limited, and the line density must be high. Sometimes, HDI design is implemented, but this increases the cost and the amount of PCB design challenges.
The second challenge is thermal and power integrity. As mentioned earlier, due to the limited layer count and space, power supply lines often use thick copper or buried copper to meet the power integrity and thermal requirements. Since automotive electronics are increasingly more powerful, the required current is also greater, and the power plane and return path capability will naturally be more challenging. Not enough current will lead to voltage instability, resulting in an unstable electronic system. To make things worse, this will also increase the generation of heat. The power integrity and thermal requirements will also be a major challenge in conventional PCB designs later, not just in automotive electronics.
The third challenge is electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and safety. The extent of this issue involves a wide range of areas. For most consumers, reliability and safety are the most important factors related to automobiles, and safety includes electromagnetic radiation safety. Electromagnetic radiation is not visible, but it is there, and passengers are surrounded by radiation in the vehicle. The exact effect of a car’s electromagnetic radiation on humans has yet been determined, but many of our automotive electronics customers have begun to pay attention to electromagnetic compatibility issue.
Yu: On the other hand, what are some of the opportunities you see in this segment?
EDADOC: In PCB design, the other side of the coin is the opportunity. We believe that automotive PCB design will gradually develop to a more specialized direction in the future. This is an opportunity for all of us. To seize the opportunity, we must first learn all of the existing problems in the design of automotive electronics, so that we can solve these.
We design tens of thousands of PCBs every year, with very different customer requirements for every kind of product. Among these are many HDI designs and cost-saving ones. This knowledge can be applied to automotive electronics as well. We believe that we already have a fair amount of technology accumulated and are applying it in automotive electronics. In the meantime, we are doing case studies of HDI and automotive electronics design and conduct internal training and presentations. This is a requirement for companies designing automotive electronics today...
To read this entire article, which appeared in the April 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.