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Siemens: Thermal Modeling of PCBs: Getting the Right Details Right

Siemens Visionary Siemens Visionary
Siemens Visionary

The information below was gathered from the 2018 Simcenter Conference - Americas that took place October 15-17 in Detroit, Michigan.


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Author: Ruben Bons, Director - Electronics and Semiconductor


Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are a key part of essentially every electronics device.  The PCB's primary purpose is to provide the electrical connections among the wide range of components (ICs, resistors, capacitors, etc.) on the board and the connections to the rest of the electronics system.  PCBs are typically constructed as a complex "sandwich" structure with thin electrical conductor traces between dielectric layers.  Because the electrical conductors also are good thermal conductors, PCBs also can significantly impact the thermal performance of the board assembly and, consequently, the overall electronics device.  Excessive temperature is a primary cause of electronics failures, so proper thermal modeling of PCBs is critical.


This presentation examines the variety of methods available in the Simcenter CFD products for thermal modeling of PCBs.  The physical structure of PCBs is briefly described followed by an explanation of the various compact and detailed methods for thermal modeling.  Advantages and disadvantages of the various methods are explained, which help to guide when each method might best be utilized.  The end goal of thermal simulations is to provide sufficiently accurate temperature results to guide and validate the electronics system design, and this presentation seeks to show the techniques to achieve this.