What Microvias Are, What They Do, and Why They’re Better Than Other Vias

Your company has just developed a brand-new product that could potentially change the way your industry pursues computing. Your design team hands you the product specifications, and you contact an advanced Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufacturer. You order PCBs, which are necessary for your team to create a prototype and test your new product.

The stakes are high, and so are the investments. You want your prototype to have the best possible chance of being operationally successful. That means you need your product’s PCBs to utilize best-in-class vias to connect its multiple layers. The via technology your PCB manufacturer uses not only makes or breaks your product’s functionality—it also determines whether it’s going to be financially viable to mass produce.

If you’re working with a reputable, customer-focused PCB manufacturer, then they’re likely going to use microvias to build a cost-effective product for you. Microvias represent the most affordable, highly functional interconnect solution for high-density, multi-layer PCBs.

To help you understand the importance of these components in any electronic communication, we’ve explained what they are and what their benefits are when measured against other types of vias. Read on to learn more.

What is a Microvia?

Your product’s PCB contains stacked pads that are punctured and electrically connected by a series of tube-lined holes. These conductive holes are called vias.

Certain products, particularly those in the telecommunications and computing industries, require PCBs that use vias with a great number of highly dense layers and smaller vias with increased functionality. These vias are called microvias.

Microvias include three major parts:

  • Through holes, which penetrate all of the PCB’s layers
  • Buried vias, which sit in the middle of PCB’s inner layers and have no path to the exterior
  • Blind vias, which don’t penetrate the entire board but connect the PCB’s exterior layer to at least one interior layer

According to IPC standards, buried and blind vias must be 150 micrometers in diameter or less. In other words, microvias are incredibly tiny, which allows them to connect the high-density layers of advanced PCBs.

What a Microvia Does in Printed Circuit Boards

Information processing systems need a vehicle for inputting and outputting. Typically, they use a printed circuit board or another kind of high density interconnect structure as that vehicle.

PCBs and high-density interconnections (HDIs) transmit user input to a device, process the user’s information, and then generate the device’s response. Microvias are the components that make that process happen since they allow PCBs to process your command.

For example, if you use a tablet’s touchscreen to open an email, the PCB within the tablet will effectively allow your email account to pop up on your screen. Without the conductive pathways, microvias create, the PCB and the devices in which they are installed could not operate efficiently—your email app wouldn’t open, and neither would any of the other programs or apps you installed on your device.

Microvias’ miniature size and comparatively outsized capabilities are also one of the major reasons we’ve seen increased processing power in the digital age. Without them, we’d be using substantially larger, potentially non-mobile devices that rely on conventional via technology.

What Sets Microvias Apart From Other Types of Vias

Printed circuit board manufacturing is expensive, in part because of how much each layer costs. Manufacturers can use standard microvias to replace through holes, increasing conductivity and decreasing the number of layers used in the PCB. This replacement can significantly reduce the manufacturing cost. In addition, the use of standard microvias can improve a PCB’s electrical characteristics.

Cutting-edge electronic products, such as smartphones, are physically small, but they need to be exceptionally functional. Therefore, they require high-density, multi-layer PCBs. Because microvias optimize PCBs’ functionality and minimize space, PCB manufacturers prefer standard microvias for HDI circuit designs that include two or three layers.

What if your product needs an advanced PCB with more than three layers? Microvias come in a variety of patterns and materials, including staggered, stacked, offset, via-in-pad, non-conductive, copper-filled, and offset. For applications requiring more than three layers, the PCB manufacturer will use stacked microvias, which boost routing across several layers and include built-in thermal regulation.

Not only are stacked microvias a remarkable, state-of-the-art technology, but they can also cut down on your PCB manufacturing costs.

How Streamline Circuits’ Microvia Technology Benefits You

Before you place your next PCB manufacturing order, review our explanation of microvias and their benefits. At Streamline Circuits, we created our own patented microvia technology called V-Stacks. This cost-effective, light-weight technology lets manufacturers build microvia structures more than 3 layers deep, using only a single lamination cycle. Our V-Stacks also allow manufacturers to create smaller, more detailed features and increase reliability between microvia layers.

To learn more about our revolutionary V-Stacks technology, contact the Time and Technology Experts at Streamline Circuits today. Our team is happy to expound the benefits of our unique microvias and why they’ll make the difference in your product’s high-density, multi-layered PCBs.