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Correlation Factor Analysis of FEA Model Simplification Methods of Printed
Circuit Board

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Circuit Board

ZOU Su1, LI Chuan Ri1, XU Fei1, QIAO Liang1

1 School of Reliability and Systems Engineering, Beihang University

Beijing, P.R. China

E-mail:chys0816@126.com,lichuanri @buaa.edu.cn,daniel_srse_buaa@yahoo.cn

(1) Simple Method: This method ignores the influence of

components added on the substrate mass and stiffness, so the

entire printed circuit board is considered as a substrate.

(2) Global Mass Smearing: The method takes the quality

of the entire printed circuit board into account, and uniform

mass universally. The equivalent density is equivalent to

ratio of the quality of the printed circuit board and substrate

volume.

(3) Global Mass / Stiffness Smearing: The equivalent

stiffness and equivalent mass of components is considered

on printed circuit board.

(4) Local Smearing: The local equivalent stiffness and

equivalent mass is solved on local area.

(5) Detailed Finite Element Modeling: Establish a

complete finite element model directly on the printed circuit

board, including components and connection details.

Above five methods, the first 3 methods are unable to

simulate the vibration characteristics of electronic PCB

assembly accurately; and the 4th seems inadequate in the

analysis of PCB's frequency response and fatigue life

estimates; the 5th methods excessive drawback is calculated

too much although can analyze the force and deformation in

various locations of printed circuit boards. Since many

systems have large number of printed circuit boards and the

structure is complex, directly establishing FEA digital

prototyping meets difficulty on the time-consuming

calculation. Therefore, the establishment of digital

prototyping FEA work is often in the computing complexity

and modeling accuracy trade-off dilemma.

During this period, R.A.Amy[4,5]considered the modeling

simplification of the PCB assembly and the problem of

accuracy, and gives a strong focus on the error resulting from

simplification and input variables. First, a random

simplification model is selected as a benchmark; then

different degrees of simplification are obtained by changing

the input parameters; finally calculate different simplification

combinations to get the deformation (curvature) error of the

board assembly. It founds that the boundary constraints,

thickness, mass and stiffness of PCB assembly have a

significant effect on the deformation (curvature).

equipments which experienced vibration load, the simulation

on vibration characteristic of the printed circuit board is

presented using the finite element analysis software ANSYSWorkbench. Various input factors that may have correlation

with the modal frequencies and mode shapes of the PCB are

studied by the illustration of an avionics printed circuit board.

The contrast study mainly focus on the PCB material

parameters, meshing conditions, different model reduction

methods and means of contact constraints. The principles of

simplifying FEA model are acquired through the sensitivity

analysis of various factors on the frequency error. The

experience on of electronic products is accumulated, and the

accuracy of failure prediction is ensured by using the results of

vibration response.

Keywords-Vibration dynamic

modifying; ANSYS-Workbench

I.

simulation;

FEA

model

INTRODUCTION

equipments are usually subjected to a harsh vibration

environment, and it turns into an important tool to predict the

failures. Based on PoF [1] (failure of physics), the failure

prediction method is the current research focus. The method

of study has 3-steps: establish the finite element model first,

then get the vibration responses using the finite element

analysis technology, and lastly obtain the failure prediction

results according to the corresponding failure mechanism

models and failure criterion. Accuracy of PCB assembly

modeling is expected the basis of failure prediction of

avionics.

This paper studies a number of modeling simplifications

of PCB assembly FEA digital prototypes, and modifies FEA

digital prototypes through experimental modal analysis. The

main factors that impact the modal information of digital

FEA prototyping are figured out. The sensitivity analysis of

factors that impact the simplified method is emphasized so

that to help making the model parameter adjustment during

the modeling modification. At the same time a reasonable

principle of FEA modeling simplification is given. The work

accumulates experience on dynamics simulation for

electronic products, and would be able to get more accurate

results of the dynamic response in the next failure prediction.

II.

III.

influential factors of the digital prototype of FEA, which

include: material parameters, meshing,

modeling

simplification and contact types. Then the sensitivity analysis

of these factors is figured out on the influence of the

dynamic characteristics of PCB assembly level.

the core is smear [2,3] with the following five methods:

978-0-7695-4584-4/11 $26.00 2011 IEEE

DOI 10.1109/CIS.2011.326

RESEARCH METHOD

1461

behavior, we first consider the inherent dynamic

characteristics (including modal frequencies, mode shapes

and damping ratio). After identifying the mode information,

we can calculate corresponding acceleration or displacement

response results depending on the input vibration load.

Due to the modal frequency is more sensitive in the

modal information, so we take the analysis method focusing

on the frequency error as output factors. The larger the error,

the greater influence the input factors make.

During the process of sensitivity analysis, we focus on

impact analysis of the results to summarize a reasonable

principle of simplifying FEA model. The final destination is

to use FEA model directly to get reasonably accurate digital

prototype vibration simulation results.

IV.

SOP

9.2*6.3*1.6

10

DIP-6

8.9*6.4*3.0

V.

finite element analysis software ANSYS-workbench for

analysis. As the model has been built in CAD software,

directly inputting the model can effectively improve the

design efficiency and quality. This section mainly makes

sensitivity analysis about various factors which affect the

vibration mode of the circuit board information, so that to

explore a reasonable FEA model modifying method.

A. Material Parameter

The material parameters affecting the dynamic

characteristics of the printed circuit board mainly involve:

Young's modulus, density and Poisson's ratio. In order to

study the sensitivity of this three parameters, their own errors

are chosen as independent input variables; and the first order

natural frequency errors of the board are chosen as the output

variable for analysis; the other variables that may impact are

all fixed as constant, the result is shown in Figure 2, which

the density range investigated is 1500kg / m 3 ~ 3300kg / m 3 ,

the range of Poisson's ratio is 0.17 ~ 0.35 , the range of

Young's modulus is 10.0GPa ~ 28.0GPa .

RESEARCH OBJECT

components, an electrical connector, 2 pulling ears and 2

locking bar, which specifically shown in Figure 1.

170mm * 149mm * 2mm. Material is provided according to

GB/T4725-1992 copper clad epoxy glass laminate, with a

total weight of 218g. In order to expedient analysis, the

selected extent of components is that: the mass is greater

than 0.5g; the characteristic length is greater than 7.3mm.

Specific component information is shown in Table 1. The

shape dimension of electrical connector is approximately

133.5mm * 10.0mm * 12.5mm. And the connection type is

selected for welding. The exposed lead of the electrical

connectors is ignored, while the uniform mass block is used

to build the main body.

TABLE I.

Poisson, Youngs modulus

the frequency resulting from the change of a single factor

error. We can see that as the factor error value increases, the

Young's modulus curve show obvious increase, the density

and Poisson's ratio curve is decreasing. According to the

slope of the curve, we can see that the changes of Young's

modulus and density show greater influence on the board

first-order natural frequency, while Poisson's ratio affects

little.

The error of the Z-axis frequency value show that

material parameter factor has a great impact, improper

selection can even make the error of the first-order natural

frequency to 1.5 times. So during the model simplification

process we should first determine the material parameters. In

general, based on the demand of board design, the density is

obtained using = m V , not building small components

with the average mass smearing to the board. Young's

modulus can be obtained from a mechanical test reference

No.

Package

amount

shapemm

SMC

7.3*4.2*2.8

QFP

29.1*29.1*2.7

PGA

27.9*27.9*2.6

DIP-16

21.3*6.9*4.1

SOP

9.7*4.4*1.2

DIP-8

10.3*7.8*4.0

DFP

16.0*9.6*2.5

CFP

10.2*6.7*1.7

1462

test results within a certain range.

quality.

B. Mesh Control

Controllable factors in meshing include: element types,

element size (grid density), and mesh method. ANSYSworkbench gives a powerful meshing. By different meshing,

the solving results are often different. If meshing is too

sparse, the error of results would be relatively large; while

too dense, it would cause a waste of computing resources.

The element type of the printed circuit board is selected for

shell181, for the reason that this type of shell elements can

be more efficient to draw hexahedral mesh, and the results

are more accurate. Mesh method use a combination of three

control methods: automatic, Multizone sweep method and

Hex dominant method to ensure the quality.

The following study will focus on the sensitivity analysis

of the element size. The natural frequency of the printed

circuit boards is affected by the change of the element size

independently. Comparing table is shown in Table 2, and

results are shown in Figure 3.

This section will discuss the dynamic characteristics

change of the circuit board caused by the different model

simplification methods on components. The component

shape modeling approach and the component selection

standard based on mass and feature size is mainly concerned.

Making a simple explanation, that is to study whether to

build the various components model. If built, then which

kind of modeling can get a reasonable dynamic result. If not,

how to determine the component selection standard.

1) Comparison on Component Shape Modeling

Approach

The following analysis involves the 23 components

including all listed in Table 1. Different modeling methods

produce different contact area and density of the

components, and to a certain extent, affect the contact

stiffness and quality of printed circuit board, which would

result in different modal information. Here discusses the

comparison of two modeling methods: mass block modeling

method: the model of components is simplified into a

rectangular shape, and the mass and stiffness of components

themselves are equivalent into the box; welding-band

modeling method: the lead and pin of components would be

modeled with a look like welding-band, only which have

contacts with the printed circuit board. Two modeling

methods of FEA model are shown in Figure 4.

TABLE II.

No.

1

2

3

4

5

6

Element size

mm

10

5

4

3

2

1

Element

amount

1165

2352

3471

5778

12765

25285

1st order

frequencyHz

145.27

138.66

138.10

136.32

135.11

134.47

Figure 4.

and mesh methods, the results of the modal analysis are

shown in Table 3. The contrast of vibration modes represents

through MAC (modal assurance criterion) correlation matrix.

The first six order mode shapes results of two modeling

methods are extracted, and the vector matrix which

composed of the eigenvectors of the same coordinates is

calculated. The resulting histogram is shown in Figure 5.

element size, that is, divide a denser grid, will reduce the

first-order natural frequency value of the circuit board.

However, after the element size is greater than 2mm, the

increase of the first-order natural has been less than 1%.

Then increasing the density of grid would increase the

number of elements sharply with only little change of

frequency results. This shows that the element size can be

guaranteed proper results at a certain level, without excessive

pursuit of grid number in engineering project.

Here the thickness of 2mm is based on the circuit board

to select the element size. So the set of element size can refer

to the thickness of the board. The use of three mesh methods

above can guarantee hexahedral dominant meshing which is

TABLE III.

TWO MODELING METHODS

st

Model

Mass

block

Weldingband

1463

1

order(Hz)

140.0

2nd

order(Hz)

266.8

3rd

order(Hz)

331.1

Element

amount

13773

149.6

269.7

336.4

26793

and it would be the reasonable simplified principle of a

model.

The feature size (maximum between the length and width

of component) ratio is similar to mass ratio analysis and also

select five feature size levels for comparison. The component

less than its feature size level would be smeared to the

printed circuit board, and greater would establish the block

entity model. The first order frequency results of

comparative analysis are shown in Table 5. The curves of

feature size ratio and the absolute value of frequency error

are shown in Figure 7. It can be seen, the error has a smallest

value when feature size ratio is near 12%.

approach, it can be seen that the modal frequencies and mode

shapes results are almost the same by the use of mass block

or welding-band modeling methods. If no need to make

further research on the force of components, only concerned

about the dynamic structural characteristics of the circuit

board, then it is sufficient to choose the mass block method

to meet the accuracy requirements, and can effectively

reduce the number of elements to improve the computational

efficiency.

2) Comparison Aqnalysis of Mass Ratio

This part gives 5 mass levels from min to max of the 23

components on the PCB. Each component would be built

according to the level. The one whose mass is less than the

level would be smeared to the printed circuit board without

being built solid model, and whose mass is greater than the

level would be built as a mass block. Mass ratio is obtained

by the mass level divided by the total mass of PCB. Then the

frequency error is got by the absolute value of the FEA

modal frequency results minus the modal test results. The

first order frequency results of comparative analysis are

shown in Table 4.

TABLE IV.

TABLE V.

SIZE LEVELS

No.

1

2

3

4

5

Feature size

level

(mm)

29.1

21.3

15.9

8.9

7.3

Frequency

(Hz)

115.41

136.63

139.42

140.73

140.00

Feature

size ratio

(%

17.12

12.53

9.35

5.24

4.29

Absolute value of

frequency

error(Hz)

14.5

6.70

9.49

10.8

10.1

LEVELS

No.

Mass level

(g)

Frequency

(Hz)

1

2

3

4

5

10

7.2

1.1

1

0.3

115.41

135.11

138.68

139.80

140.00

Mass

ratio

(%)

4.59

3.30

0.50

0.46

0.14

Absolute value of

frequency

error(Hz)

14.5

5.18

8.75

9.87

10.1

Figure 7.

influence on mass M and stiffness K of PCB resulted from

components model. The change of these two parameters will

directly affect the modal frequency and mode shape results,

while the extent of simplified model determines the solver

time. In this balance between the accuracy and the difficulty

of solving, the comparative analysis of modeling gives

reasonable principles for proposal. The shape of components

The curves of the mass ratio and the absolute value of the

frequency error are shown in Figure 6. It can be seen, the

first three frequency error curve are all shaped as a tub.

When mass ratio is near 3 percent, the error has a smallest

value. Through the mass ratio sensitivity analysis, we can get

component modeling principles on mass: keeping the

constant material parameters and uniform mesh method, the

choice of mass level is 3% of the total mass of printed circuit

1464

reference.

The selection of component following the mass ratio and

feature size ratio can be taken into account synthetically; we

can choose the complement of two factors. The reference

value given here is that the mass ratio is greater than 3% of

the total mass of PCB and the feature size ratio is greater

than 12% of the total PCB feature size.

4) Contact Type

Locking bar and electrical connector connect the printed

circuit boards and chassis together. The way of modeling and

contact would affect the vibration mode frequency and mode

shape of the printed circuit board under clamped state.

ANSYS-Workbench can set linear contact mode to

Bonded or No separation. Bonded is the default type

which can be understood as bonding, not allowing separation

or sliding. No separation does not allow separation

between the surface contact areas, but along the contact

surface it can exit a small friction-free sliding. Here the

locking contact surface between the printed circuit board and

chassis support plate is set to No separation, electrical

connectors and sockets are set to Bonded.

The EMA modal testing and FEA simulation results of

clamped state are shown in Table 6, Figure 8

TABLE VI.

Order

1st

2nd

3rd

VI.

BETWEEN MODAL TESTS AND SIMULATIONS

Modal tests

Hz

228.95

365.22

526.66

Simulation

Hz

213.4

375.58

552.3

CONCLUSIONS

dynamic characteristics of the printed circuit board, the

principles of simplifying FEA model are summed up as

following:

(1) Material parameters: based on the demand of board

design, the density is obtained using = m V , not building

small components with the average mass smearing to the

board. Young's modulus can be obtained from a mechanical

test reference value, and then make modification according

to the modal test results within a certain range.

(2) Mesh: shell elements are suggested using for the

circuit board; element size are recommended according to

the thickness value of the circuit board; comprehensive

selection of mesh control to hexahedral dominant mesh will

be get better results.

(3) Modeling simplification of components: according to

the mass and feature size ratio to choose which components

need to build.

(4) Contact type: try to ensure constant contact area,

make the contact type match the mechanical characteristics

as much as possible.

Starting from FEA model modifying, this paper makes a

research on sensitivity analysis of the various factors which

affect the dynamic characteristics. Giving the results of the

relationship between various factors and the error, the

principles for the FEA modeling simplification are proposed.

It has accumulated valuable experience on directly use of

design information for the future establishment of the FEA

model. So we can get the simulation dynamic characteristics

of electronic products conveniently and accurately, and

ensure the use of vibration results in follow-up failure

prediction.

Frequency

error(%)

6.79

2.84

4.87

REFERENCES

[1] M. Pecht and A. Dasgupta, Physics-of-failure: An

[2]

[3]

tests and Simulations

we can see that through a series FEA model simplification

method of material parameters, mesh control, simplified

method of components modeling and contact type, the

reasonable and accurate dynamic characteristics results of

printed circuit board under clamped state could be obtained.

This statement is needed that the sensitivity analysis in

this paper is for a particular piece of printed circuit board.

[4]

[5]

1465

IEEE Int. Integr. Reliab.Workshop Final Rep. (Cat.

No.95TH8086), 1995, pp. 14.

J.M. Pitarresi, A. Primavera, Comparison of vibration

modeling techniques for printed circuit cards, ASME

Journal of Electronic Packaging 114 (1992) 378383.

J.M. Pitarresi, D.V. Caletka, R. Caldwell, D.E. Smith,

The Smeared property technique for the FE vibration

analysis of printed circuit cards, ASME Journal of

Electronic Packaging 113 (1991) 250257.

R.A.Amy, G.S.Aglietti, Guy Richardson, Simplified

modelling of printed circuit boards for spacecraft

applications, Acta Astronautica 65 (2009) 192201.

R.A.Amy, G.S.Aglietti, Guy Richardson, Sensitivity

analysis of simplified Printed Circuit Board finite

element models, Microelectronics Reliability 49 (2009)

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