FR4 (aka FR-4), is a widely accepted international grade designation for fiberglass reinforced epoxy laminates that are Flame Retardant (self extinguishing), but what quality should you expect.

Eurocircuits laminate requirements of finished boards (based on definitions out of IPC-A-600 (x) class II)

The boards must be free of dust and dirt.

FR-4 defects - Measling -Crazing -Blistering

Measling (1) (separation of the fibres at the weave intersection) is permitted (See IPC-A-600 2.3.1).

Crazing (2) (glass fibres are separated from the resin) is permitted (See IPC-A-600 2.3.2).

Blistering (3) (local swelling and separation in the base material, between individual glass weave layers or between the base material and the Cu-foil). See: delaminating below.

 FR-4 defects - Weave exposure - texture - Delamination

Weave exposure (4) (outermost resin-layer is missing) is permitted.

Weave texture(5) (outermost resin-layer is very thin) is permitted.

Delaminating (extended separation inside the PCB) is permitted (See IPC-A-600 2.3.3).

Not more than 25 % of the distance between adjacent conductors or plated-through holes.

Not more than 1% of the printed wiring area on each side may be affected.

No propagation as a result of thermal stress testing or representative condition.

The distance between conductive patterns is not reduced by the imperfection below the min. conductor spacing.

The imperfection does not exceed min. distance between the edge of the PCB and the conductive patterns or 2.5mm.

(6A) shows separation between two glass weave layers in the base material. The separation can also occur between the base material and the copper foil.

Separation and Haloing

(6B) shows a separation between individual layers.

and (6D) show separations between laminate and internal or external pads respectively, or copper planes.

Haloing (7) (light area in the machined areas of the board) is permitted if the distance between the haloing penetration and the nearest conductor is not less than the minimum isolation distance or 100 µm.

Foreign Inclusions (metallic or non-metallic entrapped in an insulating material) is permitted depending on size and position.

Laminate voids – prepreg voids – stress crack – resin crack – fibre bundle cracks : (typical voids and cracks in laminates named after the position and/or cause of occurring) are permitted if not in excess of 0,8mm, not more than 5% of the printed wiring area on each side may be affected and not violating minimum dielectrically spacing (See IPC-A-600 2.2.4).

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