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Single-Layer vs. Multilayer PCBs – How do they differ?


  Before designing a printed circuit board, you must decide whether to use a single-layer or multi-layer PCB. Both types of design are used in many everyday devices. The kind of project you are using the board for will determine which one is best for you. Multi-layer boards are more common for complex devices, while single-layer boards can be used for simpler devices. This article will help you understand the differences and choose the right type for your project.

  Based on the names of these PCBs, you can probably guess what the difference is. A single-layer board has one layer of base material (also known as a substrate), while multi-layer boards contain multiple layers. When examining them closely, you’ll notice many differences in how these boards are constructed and function.

 1. Single-Layer PCBs

  Single-sided boards are also known as single-sided boards. They have components on one side and a conductor pattern on the other. These boards have one layer of conductive material (typically copper). A single-layer board consists of a substrate, conductive metal layers, a protective solder layer, and a silk screen. Single-layer boards are found in many simpler electronic devices.

 2. Double-Sided PCBs

  A double-layer or double-sided board can be used. This board has more layers than a single layer but less than a multi-layer. The double-sided version of the single-sided PCB has one substrate layer. They have a layer of conductive metal on both the substrate and the substrate.

  One of two ways circuits and components can be connected to each other is through through-holes: * Through-Holes: These are tiny holes in the board through which wires (or leads) are fed. Then, the appropriate component is soldered to it.

  Surface Mounts: These PCBs are made with leads that are soldered directly to the board. Because the board is the wiring surface for the components, the circuits take up less space.

 3. Multi-Layer PCBs

  Multi-layer PCBs consist of multiple double-sided boards stacked on top of one another. They can have as many boards as needed, but the longest one made was 129-layers thick. They typically have between 4 and 12 layers. However, unusual amounts can lead to problems like warping or twisting after soldering.

  A multi-layer board’s substrate layers have a conductive metal on each side. Each board is joined using a specialized adhesive and an insulating material. The multi-layer boards have solder masks at the edges.

  Vias are paths that allow layers to communicate with each other. These paths can be divided into three categories:

  * Through-Hole: Pass through all layers of the board

  * Blind: Connect an inner layer to an outer layer

  * Buried: Connect two layers of inner material, making them inaccessible from the outside

  Multi-layer boards are often found in complex devices that have many connections.

 Single-Layer PCB Advantages

  The advantages of single-layer PCBs over other types of boards are numerous. Depending on your project’s requirements, they might be your best choice. These are:

  * Less expensive: Single-layer PCBs require fewer resources, time, and expertise to produce and design than multi-layered and double-sided PCBs. They are also less costly. Single-sided boards are more affordable than multi-layer PCBs. This is because it is possible to maintain high quality and performance using a single-sided board. The significant advantage of single-sided boards is the lower cost compared to multi-layer PCBs.

  * Easier Design and Production: Single-sided boards can be designed and manufactured easily by most designers. Design and production will be much easier than on multi-layer printed circuit boards. They also produce consistently positive results. Because of their simplicity, almost any PCB company can create single-layer boards.

  * High Volume: These boards are easy to produce so that you can order large quantities without any problems. Bulk ordering will allow you to get the best value from single-sided PCBs because it lowers the cost per board.

  * Less lead time: Single-layer boards are easy to manufacture due to their simplicity and require fewer resources than multi-layer PCBs. They are the ideal choice for those who need quick PCBs, even if they are in high volumes.

  Single-Layer PCB Advantages

  Despite their cost benefits and other perks, single-layer boards are not the best choice for every project because of their limitations.

  * Simple Design: Although the simplicity of single-layer boards’ is one of their greatest benefits, it also has a significant limitation. A single layer is insufficient to provide enough power and space for more complicated devices requiring many components or connections. The device will not function properly if wires cross one another. Therefore, the board must be large enough to hold everything. Single-sided PCBs are not able to accommodate complex designs.

  * Lower speed and operating capacity: These boards have a limited number of connections which can also impact their power and speed. These boards with fewer circuits are less robust and have lower operating capacities. They may not be powerful enough for specific applications.

  * A larger size and heavier weight: To increase the capabilities of a single-sided board, you will need to expand its dimensions rather than adding another layer. This is what you can do with a multi-layer PCB. While you could use several boards, a single multi-layer board will likely be sufficient to meet your exact needs. The final product will be heavier if it has more boards.


  You need to assess the needs of your project and determine if a single-layer board is right for you. Because of their low cost and quick production times, they are the best choice for simple devices. They are not suited for more complicated projects because they lack sufficient functionality. 

  Single-Side PCB Application

  Single-layer PCBs are using in various electronic devices as they have low cost and easy to be manufacture. Multi-Layer PCBs makes electronic device more complicated and single-sided is the most common using type. Single-layer PCBs are used in devices has only one function only and don’t have to store more data or access the internet but this is for all applications.

  Single-layer PCBs are used in household items like coffee makers. LED lights, printers, radios and calculators have single-sided PCB. Storage devices like solid state drives often run on single-sided PCBs and also used in components like power supplies and various types of sensors.

  Multi-Layer PCB Advantage

  When we talk about multi-layer PCB, it is designs for various applications. Some applications required multi layers. Here is some more benefits of multi-layer PCBs.

  Useful in Complicated Projects

  Devices that are complex and have more circuits and components required multi-layer PCB. If there is requirement of more circuits in single board solve by adding layers. When adding more boards require sufficient space for connections and make it suitable for advanced devices. The devices that have multiple uses and also have advance features like Smartphone that have high level of complexity.

  Multi-Layer PCB Disadvantage

  Multi-functionality and other improved features of multi-layer boards come with a price. The high price and other features may not be suitable for every project.

  High Cost

  Design and manufacturing of multi layer board is more expensive than one or two layer board. For manufacturing multi-layer boards require more resources, more time and more skill which increase the price.

  Design and Production Complications

  Designing and manufacturing process of multi-layer boards are more complicated process than single-layer boards. For multi layer manufacturing, required highly skilled designers with advance specialized equipment’s. While manufacturing you will face difficulties in process if don’t have enough resources available.


  A specialize manufacturing process, every manufacture cannot make them. It is hard to find the right company for manufacturing, designing or repair a multi layer board. If the board require repairs, it is also hard to find technician who can repair them.

  Long Lead Time

  Multi layer board require more time to manufacture than single-layer board. It is also important that all the layers have to be secured to each other form one board from many layers. These processes took time and increase the lead time. If you want to manufacture multi layer board quickly, it is not possible. It is very costly and time consuming process if you want to change design.

  Complex Repairs

  Multi layer PCBs are very reliable but if anything happens the repairing is very difficult or sometime impossible. If there is a problem with an electronic component or if the board itself get damaged, it is hard to find problem because it is inside layers and the vias is not visible from outside. The more number of components on board make repairing difficult and very time consuming.

  Applications Multi Layer PCB

  With advancement in technology, multi-layer PCBs are more common in today’s electronic devices. To minimize the size of electronic device require multiple layer of circuit boards. The use of multi layer PCB is increasing more and more as the device have more functionality and complex capabilities.

  We can find multi layer boards in computer components like motherboards and servers. Devices like laptops, tablets, smartphone and smartwatches uses multi-layer boards. Devices like smartphone uses 12 layers.

  Devices are less complicated than smartphones and less complex for a single-sided pcb used between 4-8 layers. The household items like microwave and air conditioners which uses multi-layer technology.

  Medical devices also run on pcb with more than three layers and have reliability, small size and lightweight. The multi layer PCB boards uses in X-ray machine, heat monitors, CAT scan and many other applications.

  The automotive and aerospace industries are using electronic components that are durable and lightweight and the multi-layer PCB is perfect for it. These parts have to withstand with wear, heat and other conditions as it is used in on board conditions, GPS systems, engine sensors, headlight switches.

  Multi layer PCBs are also used in industry also. The modern day machines have computerized components like sensors, controls. The equipment needs functionality, reliability and durability as there are harsh conditions in facilities.

  Multi layer PCBs are used in military applications, weather analysis equipment, alarm systems, atomic accelerators and in other devices.

If you are in PCB business,You may like some Multi layer PCB from YMS.

PCB Solutions From YMS PCB

At YMSPCB, we have the resources, skills and knowledge to provide you with the PCB solution that’s right for your project, whether that’s a single-sided, double-sided or multi-layer board. No matter which solution you choose, our parts are always quality-guaranteed — our quality control department ensures all our parts are reputably sourced. We offer a full range of PCB services, including full feature manufacturing, advanced assembly and electronics manufacturing services. We can even assemble custom PCBs and will function test based on your unique requirements.

Post time: Sep-17-2022
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