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What Is PCB Trace Resistance Calculator? A Comprehensive Guide

No PCB design can be perfect without paying attention to the trace width. If you want to come up with a flawless PCB design, you need to maintain the trace width on all counts.

 In this pursuit, you can seek help from some factors that make determining accurate trace width easier. It is important to understand what trace width is and its functionality before jumping on its determining factors. 

In this post, we are going to have an insightful look at trace width for you! So let’s get started!

What is PCB Trace Width?

The purpose of trace width is to combine signals from one part to the other. It is also useful for stabilizing these signals to avoid any problems. Now, these parts can be anything. 

From pins to junctions and wires, smooth signaling happens only if you set an accurate trace width. Due to this reason, trace width is an important factor to consider when designing PCBs. 

It will also help in protecting the PCBs in case the temperature exceeds the limit. A PCB trace is like a wire that has great durability to handle large amounts of current and electrical loads. 

The heat dissipates when a large amount of current passes through a system. For this, trace width comes in handy. If not handled carefully, insufficient trace width can lead to irreversible damage to the PCBs. 

Traces do not need any kind of resistance to function properly. They can join the PCB parts without any external assistance. To ensure everything is in place, you must determine the current, resistance, and amount of temperature when designing a specific PCB. 

What is a PCB trace resistance calculator?

A trace wish calculator can prove to be useful in this aspect. It functions to measure the PCB’s width precisely. It is a complex device that uses programming languages to make sure the reading is accurate. 

Trace width is important for developing flawless PCBs, and for an accurate trace width, you need to rely on a trace width calculating device.

 One major benefit of using trace width is that it regulates the temperature of PCBs when large currents pass through the critical components inside. 

Let’s check out other upsides of using a trace width calculator:

  • It is useful to get multiple readings like voltage changes, temperature changes, power loss, and amount of current/resistance.
  • Such a calculator can also read the amount in amperes, making it easier when you are designing PCBs.

When you are taking reading in amperes, you must know that it can vary as per the length of the current path. In case you don’t determine such parameters before using the calculator, you cannot get an accurate reading in amperes at all. 

The calculator works on your pre-determined factors. The trace width will then protect the PCBs and will regulate the current flow without letting it damage the board itself. 

Internal layers of the boards have a large amount of trace width than those present outside. The trace width directly relates to the heat produced, and internal layers generate more heat since their trace width is higher than the external ones. 

To ensure 100% security of the PCBs, it is important to pay great attention to trace width of internal layers. It is because they bear excessive load during the working of PCBs. 

Applications of PCB trace resistance calculator

The margin of error when you use a trace width calculator, becomes less. No PCB can guarantee perfect performance if you don’t calculate its trace width in the first place. There are some key applications of this calculator that you need to know when it comes to designing excellent PCBs.

  • Such a calculating device can measure small to large trace widths easily without interfering with the current path.
  • You can also determine the factors to take precise readings with the least hustle when using this calculator.
  • You can rely on this calculator to take readings for internal and external layers of PCBs.
  • The trace width measured by a calculator is helpful when it comes to power tracing, and power signal uses cases.

Types of PCB trace resistance calculator in the Electronics Industry 


You must be wondering if there is only a single terrace width calculator available. That’s not true. There are many types of calculators available that you need to choose from as per your requirements. 

These are state-of-the-art calculators that meet all the industry standards. However, we are going to discuss two typical calculators in this section.

IPC 2221 PCB trace resistance calculator

The IPC 2221 functions on a mathematical equation and uses a graph to record the readings. The calculator uses the I=kΔTbAc equation to get you proper readings. 

The amount of K for the visible and internal traces differs when you follow this equation. The equation also shows the temperature changes as per the area for which the calculator is recording the reading. 

When using this calculator, you need to add perfect values for the equation. The current must be up to 35 amperes. Keep the temperature changes between 10oC and 100oC. In case you don’t pay heed to these values, the results won’t be accurate at all. 

IPC 2152 PCB trace resistance calculator

Now this is another type of trace width calculator. The calculator works on a similar equation as described before. Experts believe that this variant is more precise than the former one for recording trace widths for PCBs. 

There are different factors to keep in mind while using this device. 

Following are the factors that you should determine to get the best results from this calculator:

  • Distance between passing tracks and copper planes
  • Thermal conductivity of PCBs
  • Amount of current passing through the components
  • Thickness of the passing tracks

Guidelines for Calculating PCB trace resistance 

Every system or device has a set of guidelines that you must follow to procure the desired results. Similarly, when you are using a trace width calculator, there are some rules that will make this process much easier for you every time. Thus, you will be able to save a lot of time as well. 

  • The trace width depends on the type of PCB design and the amount of current going through the tracks.
  • Keep the traceroute up to 10 mm/A at least.
  • Use the copper planes of 1.0 oz/ft2 if you are following the traceroute as mentioned above. 
  • Make sure to determine the thickness, temperature, and unit in which you are going to record the trace width. 
  • These values are important to receive accurate input ranges.
  • Now this input data will get you an output figure which is basically the trace width.

Bear in mind that the input figures have to be accurate, or else the calculator will mess up the final data later. It is better to use a magnifying glass to double-check the input data if your PCB is small when it comes to getting precise trace width calculations. 

Things to consider while Choosing PCB trace resistance calculator

It is clear that trace widths of PCBs can create a negative impact on their performance in case of errors. There are some factors that help in excluding the slightest chance of faults and ensure accurate results. 

1. Signal integrity 

The digital routing for almost all the PCBs has a set of pre-determined data for their trace widths. However, this data can vary as per the size of the boards. Consider impedance nets. 

You need to record their trace width as per the layer stack-up of PCBs. On the other hand, if you are considering analog routing, its trace widths are always different. Try to lower the trace width in congested spaces to get the best reading later. 

2. PCB fabrication

Sometimes you need to fabricate the PCB. It is much easier when you give enough room to its trace width. It also leads to effortless etching when there is more space, and the trace wires are separate.

 So always keep the traces broad when you want to fabricate PCBs without any hustle. If a trace is long, it will provide more tolerance than a short trace. 

3. Power & grounding routing

Traces have major applications in power and ground routing. In this case, traces have to be long so that these wires can allow large currents to pass through. Thin traces are more sensitive, and heat can easily damage them, leading to future problems. 

Also, traces for the internal layers need to be large so that they can help in more dissipation of heat. When used in power supply, trace wires must be broad enough to allow large currents to pass through without any interference. 

The Final Say

A PCB trace calculator is a huge asset when it comes to designing PCBs. It gives accurate readings on temperature shifts, voltage changes, power changes, and much more. 

You now have a vivid idea about why trace widths are important for PCB designing and how you can maintain them through a calculating device for PCBs and other applications. 




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