Antennas enable transmitting and receiving electromagnetic waves, allowing wireless communication. Printed circuit boards provide an ideal medium for integrating antenna structures into products. Selecting the optimal antenna type and PCB material requires balancing electrical performance, mechanical needs, and cost.
This guide explores common antenna types, PCB substrates, and how to match antenna designs with suitable circuit board materials. We’ll examine key electrical and mechanical considerations for robust antenna performance across a range of wireless applications.
Antenna Performance Factors
Optimizing antenna designs involves key electrical and physical factors:
Resonance – The tuned frequency band where the antenna efficiently radiates and receives energy.
Directivity – Directional concentration of antenna energy into a pattern.
Gain – Amplification of signal strength in the antenna’s radiation pattern.
Beamwidth – Width of the antenna’s main directional radiation lobe.
Return Loss – Power reflected from the antenna back to the source. Lower is better.
Bandwidth – The range of frequencies where antenna performance remains acceptable.
Size – Physical antenna size constraints which limit gain.
Polarization – Orientation of the radiated electric field vector.
Common Antenna Types
Different antenna types each have advantages and tradeoffs for wireless applications:
- Omnidirectional radiation pattern
- Ground plane reference required
- Moderate gain and beamwidth
- Simple structure from PCB trace
- Bidirectional radiation pattern
- Balanced feed required
- Low to moderate gain
- Integrates easily on PCB
Planar Inverted-F (PIFA)
- Low-profile compact structure
- Omnidirectional pattern
- Resonant frequency set by geometry
- Moderate bandwidth
- Low-profile design
- Directional radiation
- Narrow bandwidth
- Use arrays for beam steering
- Etched slot shape in ground plane
- Wide beamwidth with moderate gain
- Omnidirectional or bidirectional patterns
- Complementary structure to patch
- Very high gain and directivity
- Narrow frequency band operation
- Larger profile structure
- Low loss and excellent efficiency
Matching antenna types to the product’s size, bandwidth, and radiation pattern requirements ensures optimal wireless performance.
Antenna Feeding Techniques
Antennas interface to transceivers via feeding structures:
Coaxial Cable – Simple and inexpensive with moderate loss.
Microstrip Line – Photolithographic trace feeds antennas with low loss and cost.
Waveguide – Hollow metallic pipe with very low loss but higher fabrication costs.
Aperture – Feeds energy through a shaped opening in a conductive surface.
Balancing feed complexity, loss, integration, and bandwidth leads to the optimal feeding choice. Microstrip transmission line feeds integrate conveniently onto PCB substrates.
Antenna Ground Structures
Most antennas require a ground plane structure to operate efficiently:
Continuous Ground Plane – Provides consistent low impedance reference, at the expense of using one entire layer.
Island Ground Plane – Saves space by isolating ground below antenna, but allows some coupling.
Fencing – Surrounds antenna with isolating copper walls for shielding high impedance fields.
Honeycomb – Periodic open cell mesh trades off isolation and compactness.
Hybrid – Combine techniques like local islands and peripheral fencing for balanced antenna isolation.
Careful ground structures shield antenna behavior while minimizing wasted PCB real estate.
Accurately simulating antenna performance prior to fabrication reduces development iterations:
Finite Element EM Solvers
Solvers like ANSYS HFSS use full 3D EM analysis for in-depth modeling of radiation, impedance, and coupling.
Method of Moments Solvers
MoM tools like FEKO excel at analyzing planar antennas like patches, slots, and monopoles.
Model mutual coupling between elements to optimize array performance.
Co-simulate antenna impedance and radiation integrated into a system circuit model.
Test prototypes rapidly validate simulation models across operating conditions.
Mature antenna simulation brings virtual prototypes extremely close to real-world performance prior to fabrication.
PCB Substrate Materials
The circuit board material strongly impacts antenna performance through:
Dielectric Constant – Affects resonating dimensions and impedance matching.
Loss Tangent – Lossy materials reduce gain and efficiency.
Anisotropy – Consistent characteristics regardless of mounting plane.
Moisture Absorption – Prevents varying electrical parameters.
Thermal Tolerance – Withstands heating from nearby components.
Mechanical Strength – Supports vibration, flexing, and impacts.
Thickness – Thinner substrates improve radiation efficiency.
PCB Substrate Selection Guidelines
Follow these guidelines when selecting antenna PCB materials:
Dielectric Constant – Use low Dk substrates like PTFE (Dk=2.2) for maximum radiation efficiency. Higher Dk allows smaller size.
Loss Tangent – Specify low loss material (Df<0.005) for antenna efficiency, unless size reduction prevails.
Anisotropy – Ensure dielectric properties remain stable regardless of flexing or how PCB is mounted.
Moisture Absorption – Look for substrate rated for <0.2% moisture absorption.
Thermal Tolerance – Require substrate Tg over 250°C for lead-free soldering and adjacent components.
Thickness – Target thin laminates around 3-5 mils for optimum high frequency response.
Mechanical Properties – Specify robust, flexible substrates rated for environmental exposure.
Availability – Use large volume commercial PCB materials for cost efficiency and steady supply.
Price – Weigh tradeoffs between cost vs. electrical and mechanical needs.
Carefully balancing antenna, product, and production requirements leads to the optimal PCB material.
Common Antenna PCB Materials
Standard microwave PCB materials like:
Are routinely used for antenna integration due to their stability, low loss, and roughness consistency. High frequency formulations like ceramic filled PTFE composites provide further enhancements optimized for antennas.
Matching antenna designs and circuit board materials requires understanding key electrical and physical factors involved. PCB technology enables integration of various antenna types into miniature wireless products. By selecting suitable substrates for target antenna performance, robust wireless connectivity can be achieved while minimizing cost, size, and complexity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the major tradeoffs between high dielectric constant vs. low Dk antenna materials?
A: High Dk substrates allow smaller antenna size at the cost of reduced efficiency. Low Dk improves radiation efficiency, but requires larger antennas.
Q: Which antenna types are most suitable for integrating directly onto PCBs?
A: Planar antennas like patches, monopoles, dipoles, and PIFAs work well for on-board integration. Waveguide and large dish antennas are impractical for embedded PCB use.
Q: What are typical PCB substrate thicknesses used for antenna designs?
A: Most antenna substrates range from 2 to 8 mils thickness. Thinner materials improve high frequency response, but sacrifice structural rigidity.
Q: How does moisture absorption affect antenna PCB performance?
A: Varying moisture absorption shifts dielectric constant over time, throwing off tuned impedance. Low absorption like <0.2% is required.
Q: What fabrication processes help improve antenna efficiency?
A: Tight dielectric uniformity, smooth copper, and precise imaging help minimize losses and variability in antenna structures.
Antenna PCB is wireless device to receive and transmit signals , has been used in telecommunication widly, As 5G network coming , More and more electronic device need Antenna PCB to communicate , called Internet of things（IoT） .
Types of Antenna PCB :
Wheels Antenna PCB
Yagi Antenna PCB
Log Periodic Antenna PCB
Quadcopter Antennas PCB
Flex PCB Antenna
Ultra Wide Band (UWB) Antenna PCB
Patch Arrays antenna PCB
Generic MMIC Antenna PCB
Custom Antenna PCB
These antennas PCB are great for expanding your wireless network and improving your broadcasting or receiving stations.
Designing a PCB Antenna :
Antenna PCB design and RF layout are the two most essential components of any wireless device. You can take two identical RF products, each with a different PCB antenna design and layout and get two vastly different RF performance ranges. What’s the difference between them ? It’s all about quality and consideration taken during the design process.
Many electronic applications into the 2.4 GHz and 915 MHz bands for commercial and consumer use, the demand for compact PCB antennas operating in the ISM bands is ever-increasing. As the name suggests, a PCB antenna is printed directly on the board
Cost-optimized Planar F-Antenna PCB
1. You can use the free online Web page (http://www1.sphere.ne.jp/i-lab/ilab/tool/ms_line_e.htm) to calculate the Width of the Micro-strip Line we need to designed. you can go to url to check .
2. Use the following formula below to calculate the width of the antenna.
3.For Antenna Design
A Meandered Inverted F-Antenna, or MIFA, needs to be length-adjusted to account for antenna radiation impedance and frequency. The tip and length of a MIFA antenna are determined by the thickness of your PCB as shown below:
Antenna PCB Material :
Antenna PCB material should be high frequency , Normally fr4 canot have good performance . here we list material that can be used for antennas PCB manufacturing :
RayMing is antenna PCB manufacturer who can support different choice of antenna PCB material , If you are designing a antenna PCB you can inquiry us how to choose antenna material , if you already have design , Welcome to send PCB file to email@example.com to get a quote now !
Understanding the Antenna PCB
The world has slowly but increasingly moved towards wireless technology. Currently, most electronic devices rely heavily on wireless technology. Look at your smartphones, laptops, pads, etc. A key element that enables transmission and reception of electromagnetic radiation under unrestricted space is the antenna PCB. So what does it entail? How does it work?
PCB antenna is the most common type of antenna in a pcb. It is printed onto the board with copper ink and has an electrical connection to another electronic component such as a connector or resistor where it can then transmit or receive electromagnetic waves. Antenna PCB is a wireless device responsible for transmitting and receiving signals. It has diverse applications though primarily in the telecommunication sector. The onset and perhaps domination of the telecommunication sector by 5G technology in the immediate future elevates the importance of an antenna circuit board. More electronic devices will require antenna-printed circuit boards to communicate as IoT.
Designing an Antenna PCB
The core components of a wireless system entail an RF layout and an antenna PCB design. The two become crucial when designing a wireless electronic product. It arises because the custom antenna manufacturers, PCB layout, and enclosure influence the RF product’s wireless range upon deployment. Remember, RF products use coin-cell battery power, something that gets optimized with proper design considerations.
Important factors to consider in the design process are numerous. It includes understanding the impossibility of getting a wide disparity of RF ranges that deploy the same power and silicon design elements yet with different antenna design and layout practice. Other vital layout aspects to comprehend include the RF trace via holes, grounding and antenna, power supply decoupling, and PCB stack up.
A properly designed antenna optimizes the product’s operating distance. The capacity to transmit more power increases the distance covered by the PER or packet error rate and receiver’s sensitivity. Likewise, a properly tuned radio can react with little antenna radiation, especially on the receiver side.
An fpc antenna represents an exposed conductor. Conductors become an antenna whenever they attain a particular ratio or become a multiple of a signal’s wavelength. The condition gets inferred to as resonancel since the antenna-fed electrical energy gets radiated into space.
The antenna geometry possesses two vital aspects in antenna feed and antenna length. In PCBs, the antenna (a quarter-length conductor) achieves similar performance to a dipole antenna. It operates by having a ground located some distance beneath the conductor to create an image of a similar length (a quarter). In combination, these legs function like dipole antennas and are referred to as quarter-wave monopoles.
It is therefore important to consider the following when developing a PCB antenna design or the quarter-wave antenna. Take into account the antenna feed, antenna length, antenna types, and size and shape of the return path and ground plane.
Three main categories of antenna types exist and include the wire antenna, the PCB antenna, and the chip antenna.
- Wire Antennas. It involves a wire that extends from the printed circuit board into free space. However, its length matches a quarter-length over ground plane designation and gets fed using a 50-Ω four transmission line. It provides the best RF range and performance because of its three-dimensional exposure and attributable dimensions. The wire can prove a loop, a straight one, or a helix.
- PCB Antenna. Alternatively inferred to as PCB trace antenna, it involves a trace drawing on the printed circuit board. It can entail different shapes of traces, including a meandered trace, straight trace, circular trace, inverted F-type trace, or a wiggly curve based on the space and antenna type constraints. Antennas on printed circuit boards become two-dimensional structures in a similar PCB plane. However, particular guidelines need to be followed when bringing a 3D antenna and transitioning it into a 2D PCB trace.
Oem high quality pcb wifi antennas need more board space, are cheaper, and possess a lower efficiency compared to wire antennas. What’s more? It possesses an acceptable wireless range for BLE applications besides having easy manufacturability.
- Chip Antenna. It comes as a tiny form-factor integrated circuit possessing a conductor. It usually becomes useful without sufficient space for the PCB antenna printing or in supporting 3D wire antennas.
Before embarking on the design process of the bluetooth ceramic chip antenna suppliers, it is therefore important to consider the three diverse categories of antennas, the basics, and the different types under each antenna class.
Simplifying the Antenna Design
Most antenna designs end up becoming complex. It arises from the need to have antennas that realize more applications yet consume less power, especially its mechanical dish antenna counterparts. The need to transfer numerous data streams, quickly relocate fresh users and threats and extend the working life of the antenna at low costs also contribute to this scenario.
An excellent solution to this regard has revolved around phased antenna designs. It, however, experiences shortcomings that get addressed by advanced semiconductors. Besides reducing their power consumption, advanced semiconductor technology plays a pivotal role in miniaturization (weight and size).
The need to keep simplifying these military antennas designs increases daily. However, how to go about it always seems the sticking point. This section will detail how the phased array technology focusing on beamforming IC can simplify the antenna designs.
Phased Array Technology
The phased array antenna comes as a collection of assembled antenna elements featuring a combination of each element’s radiation pattern with an adjacent antenna, which leads into the main lobe. The main lobe radiates energy at a preferred spot, though depending on the antenna design, it will be responsible for destructively interfering with the signals coming from the undesired direction. Consequently, this leads to the formation of ineffective side lobes and signals.
The design of the antenna array aims to maximize energy emanating from the main lobe and limit that from the side lobes to satisfactory levels. Manipulation of the radiation direction becomes possible through varying the signal phase fed into every antenna element. A phased array also enables better comprehension of the beam steering properties as it lacks mobile mechanical parts.
Phase adjustment of the IC-based semiconductor happens in a matter of few nanoseconds. Therefore, changing the radiation pattern direction is possible before quickly responding to new users or threats. Equally, it is possible to change the radiation beam to an effective zero, absorbing the interferer signal, thereby disappearing the object. Additionally, the phased array antenna allows for simultaneous radiation of multiple beams. It, therefore, makes it possible to track multiple targets or manage user data for various data streams.
Another crucial aspect regarding the phased array antenna entails the antenna element spacing. It is vital to set the component number once you have established the system objectives. The diameter of the physical array is dependent on the size limit of every cell component and instrumental in preventing the grating lobes.
Plenty of challenges facing the array design include power management, circuit control, thermal management, environmental consideration, and pulse circuits. However, to reduce these challenges, the industry has responded by resorting to low-profile arrays. While it has proved useful, further enhancements have ensured a reduction in its board size and consequently its multi band antennas depth. However, the next-generation antenna design progresses from this board configuration to a more flat-panel approach. The integrated circuit has a high integration for a simple mount on the antenna board‘s back. It leads to a reduced antenna depth which helps when it comes to loading it on portable applications.
Digital Beam Synthesis
Plenty of phased array antennas have deployed analog beamforming approaches featuring the phase adjustment utilizing the IF or the RF frequencies in the immediate past. However, a lot of interest has centered on digital beamforming. Every antenna element possesses a data converter set, with the phase adjustment getting carried out digitally in data converters such as FPGA.
Digital beamforming has various benefits. It includes the capacity to convey multiple beams, instantly changing the number of the beams, etc. Such flexibility comes in handy and proves attractive for numerous applications. However, consistent enhancement of data converters has resulted in reduced power consumption, better RF sampling.
It is important to consider plenty of factors when seeking digital beamforming solutions. While such factors are diverse, each depends on the number of beams, cost, and power consumption targets. For instance, a digital beamforming solution will feature high power consumption as each component gets combined with a data converter. However, it has plenty of flexibility and convenience when it comes to the formation of multiple beams. It is also vital to note that data converters need a higher vibrant range as beamforming, especially since cull blocking can only happen post digitization.
Types of Antenna Printed Circuit Boards
The Antenna PCB design and fabrication process require understanding the diverse types in existence and their respective applications. You cannot design or produce something you have no idea about its specific application. As already explained, three dominant categories of antenna PCBs exist. However, it transcends the classification into the numerous antenna PCB types.
Comprehension of the design requirements, materials, and the fabricating company to approach your antenna PCB need become crucial before the manufacturing process. While RayMing PCB and Assembly Company will always cover your antenna PCB inquiries, prototyping, and manufacturing needs, this section will detail the diverse antenna PCB types you must know before starting your design process. Let us get started.
PCB wifi Antenna
The PCB wifi antenna provides customers with easy drop and a reliable solution for integrated wifi communication. It also comes customizable based on the needed specifications for the connector type and cable length. Some of the specifications that accompany the PCB wifi antenna include the following.
It is RoHS compliant because of the materials deployed in its fabrication. The PCB wifi antenna also offers a 5G and 4G range besides having an IPEX connector for connectivity. The industrial temperature range entails -40 to 80 degrees Celsius.
PCB Bluetooth Antenna
It is an instrumental component that allows for Bluetooth pairing and connection in different areas of application. The PCB Bluetooth antenna comes embedded and proves robust, flexible, and direct customer PCB placement. What’s more? The antenna type has above 70% and more than 45% average efficiency across bands for off-ground and on-ground solutions, respectively.
- It comes as a PCB embedded structure complete with ground clearance and small form factor requirements.
- High-performance embedded solution
- The on-ground and off ground solutions
- Extensive app support and design collateral
- Regular “Off-the-shelf” product
- Cost-effective and rugged design that allows for pick and place, SMT, and reel and tape packaging
2.4 GHz PCB Antenna
The antenna type comes as a compact dual-band antenna, especially for the CR2032 coin cell design. It receives and transmits at 2.4 GHz frequency besides having a 21% practical efficiency mean across the 2.4 GHz ISM band and 51% at 868 MHz bandwidth coverage for either band. The 2.4 GHz PCB antenna can also get tuned for 915/920 MHz and 2.4 GHz.
It mostly comes embedded for applications that require integration flexibility. It also applies or both Bluetooth and WLAN applications of 2.4 GHz frequencies.
- Highly efficient PCB design
- IPEX connector
- It is designed for Omni-directional functions
- Low profile and with a compact size
GPS PCB Antenna
It is an important antenna type that has its application in devices requiring decidedly compact antennas featuring high radiation efficiency performance. Most GPS PCB antennas (ceramic) provide an average total radiation efficiency of a minimum of 60% over 1561 to 1602 MHz. It also supports high radiation efficiencies above 70% besides supporting an extensive range of operating temperatures.
- Low-profile GPS antenna radiator that converts unguided electromagnetic waves into guided waves
- Pick and place features.
- Laser direct structuring formed antenna radiator to leverage high yield, laser structuring precision, and consistent RF, among other useful aspects.
- Nickel or gold traces that function as transducers
- Silver pin that fixes and positions the antenna onto the printed circuit board
- Feeding pad to connect the transceiver and the PCB
GSM PCB Antenna
The GSM PCB antenna type comes as a custom-designed FR-4 quad-band antenna for tracking devices. It possesses a high RF efficiency and proves compliant with RoHS besides satisfying the PTCRB requirements.
- Supported band includes GSM 1900, 1800, 900, 850, UMTS 2100
- Frequency bands of 824~960 and 1710~2170 MHz
- The impedance of 50 Ω
- Ultra-small with dimensions of 74. x 8.2 x 0.8 nm
- A gain of 1.5 dbi ~ 3 dbi
- Band, antenna, and frequency efficiency for instance;
- GSM 850, 824 ~ 896 MHz, 17%
- UMTS 2100, 1920 ~ 2170 MHz, 68%
- GSM 900 , 880 ~ 960 MHz, 38%
- The GSM 1900, 1850 ~ 1990 MHz, 70%
- GSM 1800, 1710 ~ 1850 MHz, 60%
433 MHz PCB Antenna
It mostly comes with a single chip RF transceiver that features FSK demodulation and modulation capability. The 433 MHz PCB antenna finds its primary application in UHF radio equipment as a compliance requirement, especially by ETSI specification. It also applies in remote controls, automotive, toys, security and alarm systems, telemetry, and wireless communication.
- Two frequency bands
- True SC (single chip) FSK transceiver
- No configuration or setup
- No need for data coding
- 20kbit/s data rate
- Limited external components needed
- Low power intake
- Wide range of supply
- Standby mode
NFC PCB Antenna
The PCB antenna type comes as an on-chip 13.56 MHz mounted on a PCB for near-field communication applications. It possesses an IPX/U.FL connector and thus can get deployed by Xadow NFC, Grove NFC, and NFC Shield V2. It has a maximum range of 50mm and a cable length of 120mm. The NFC PCB antenna is ideal for NFC applications, especially those with size limitations. It includes automotive keyless entry, wearable devices, smartphones, payment terminals, and access controls, to mention but a few.
- Comprises integrated active boost transmission
- Its tiny footprint permits system printed circuit board size-reduction
- Low power intake
- Performs efficiently, including shielded environments
- It has a dimension of 5 x 5 x 1mm
- It is Reach and RoHS compliant
RFID PCB Antenna
The PCB antenna type comes as an integral antenna deployed primarily in tracing and tracking printed circuit boards during and post-manufacturing processes such as anti-counterfeiting of high-end products. It can have a read range of up to 10m based on the design and type of RFID PCB antenna, as much as tracking and tracing only needs a few centimeters. Therefore, it finds its application in inventory and retail control, toll booths and subway passes, and theft prevention.
- Two low-frequency bands, including the 13.56 MHz and the 125 kHz
- Operates using radio waves to capture and read information devoid of any direct contact
- Numerous classifications are based on generation and class. Classes centered on functionality includes class 0 to class 5
- Possesses both active and passive RFID tags and is thus capable of simultaneously retrieving numerous RFID tags
- Highly reliable communication and also a pliable configuration with this antenna type
Esp32 PCB Antenna
It is a highly integrated module featuring Bluetooth and wifi MCU and possesses low power intake besides a steady performance. The ESP32 PCB antenna has applications in low power sensor networks to some demanding tasks like MP3 decoding, music streaming, and voice encoding. It uses the ESP32-D0WD chip and combines the 2.4GHz dual-mode Bluetooth and wifi. The CPU clock frequency can get adjusted from 80 MHz to 240 MHz.
- Integrates wifi, Bluetooth, and Bluetooth LE for a wide range of applications
- A sleep current of not more than 5 µA
- Data rates of up to 150 Mbps
- The antenna output power of 20 dBm to ensure a wide physical range
- Dual CPU cores
Flex PCB Antenna
It comes as a highly reliable, low profile, economic, and flexible antenna type widely utilized in the wireless industry. It primarily consists of a polyimide flex PCB complete with a conductive copper material for the anticipated antenna typology. The flex PCB antenna can apply in the development of monopoles, printed F, and dipole antennas. Most of these antennas possess a coaxial cable that connects them to the necessary circuit. What’s more? This PCB antenna comes thin and with a peel-able back strip for surface sticking purposes.
- Bendable and thus can get embedded in IoT modules that are small with limited circuit board space
- It is possible to place them in all manner of ways, including vertically, co-planar, or horizontally to the primary PCB
- Customization options for the flex PCB antenna length make them simple to connect to a specific module.
- Simple fabrication requirements similar to those of standard printed circuit board manufacturing approaches
- Similar performance levels to those of Omni-directional antennas
4G PCB Antenna
The 4G PCB antenna type has an operating frequency of 2400-2500 MHz besides a 3dBi gain. It is wireless when it comes to transmission and reception of signals and applies widely in the telecommunication sector for communication purposes. The antenna also has an impedance of 50Ω and linear polarization. With an operating temperature of -30° to 60° C coupled with its U.FL connector type, dimensions of 49 x 32 x 2mm, the 4G PCB is perfect for its corresponding application areas.
Significance of Material Effects on the Performance of the Antenna PCB
As already established, antenna PCBs are crucial in providing sturdy performance coupled with small footprints in electronic communication. Designers need to take into account a lot of factors that converge to make antenna PCBs functional. Besides the components, layout, and other similar considerations, the type of material is always important. It can affect the performance of the PCB antenna, especially in the area of passive intermodulation.
So while diverse types of antenna PCB exist, it is prudent to consider material aspects that affect passive or active circuits deployed in RF frequencies. It includes dissipation factor, dielectric constant, CTE or coefficient of thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, TCDk or the thermal coefficient of dielectric constant, etc. Such information becomes pivotal in providing valuable insights on the material’s corresponding implication in an antenna PCB.
Therefore, consider these aspects before picking the right material to use for your antenna PCB design as a designer.
The subject of antenna PCBs is wide-ranging and covers diverse aspects. However, as a beginner, starting with the aspects detailed in the article will serve as an incredible precursor to designing and fabricating top-rate antenna PCBs to suit your antenna application area.
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