2-layer and 4-layer PCBs are the two most used types of PCBs in technology. There are many other options regarding layers of PCB like one layer, 04 up to 6 or 8 layers PCBA. But 2-layer and 4-layer PCBA are widely employed in most prototypes or technical devices because of their easy installation.
Moreover, their simple design and cost-effective features are also prominent factors that make them popular. In this article, we will compare these two PCB assemblies and elaborate on their features and cost factors one by one.
The 2-layer PCBs may be very cost-effective, lightweight, and simple, but they may not fit various devices requiring more refined signals to deliver desired outcomes. We will see its advantages and disadvantages here:
- The most important point is 2 Layer PCB cost which is lesser than 4-layer designs.
- It has a simple design and production, getting your printed circuit boards faster. The simpler your plan is, the less vulnerable it is to costly errors during the design or manufacturing process.
- If you need PCBA on a mass level, you should go for 2-layers as it is cost-effective and requires less time.
- You can develop a 2-layer PCBA in a shorter period, so you don’t have to wait too long.
- You can use more components in a 4-layer PCB as compare to 2-layer PCB.
- It has a low speed. So, if speed is an issue, the more layers are, the better. Depending on the application, you may find that two layers aren’t enough to give you the necessary speed and capacity for your project.
- Despite 4-layer printed circuit boards having more layers, double-sided PCBs are typically quite large and bulky compared to making room for components and leads.
4-layer PCBA has its own pros and cons, are the following:
- It is Useful for More Complicated Projects. The more complex your project is, the more valuable you will find the additional layers of a 4-layer PCB.
- It offers you high quality. Going from a 2-layer to a 4-layer PCB design is an obvious choice for even simple products that demand the highest quality.
- It can handle more power which is a considerable advantage for 4-layer PCBs. When deciding whether you need a double-sided or 4-layer printed circuit board, consider how much energy your design will require.
- A 4 layer design is more durable due to a large number of layers as compared to 2-layer printed circuit board,
Since 4-layer PCBs use more materials and are more challenging to manufacture, the 4 Layer PCB cost can be much more than 2-layer printed circuit boards.
- As more layers are involved, the design will be complex, and it will also take time to develop such designs.
- As the design is complex, few manufacturers are available in the market to provide you with such Assemblies.
- It is a time-consuming process to make a 4-layer PCBA.
- It has More Complex Repairs, while Double-sided printed circuit boards have an advantage over 4-layer designs regarding ease of repairs.
Comparing 2-and 4-layers PCBs based on Stackups
- 2-layer PCB Stackup
2-layer PCB is relatively easy to restrict or develop due to its simple design. The topmost layer is called layer 1 which is made of copper material. You can customize the thickness of this layer according to your design.
- 4-layer PCB Stackup
4-layer PCB will have an FR4 core or glass core on which two prepreg sheets will be fit on both sides length-wise. All 4-layers of PCBA are connected with the help of soldering at joints.
These interconnect are placed on the upper and lower outermost copper layers. Moreover, the design or stackup of 4-layer PCBs is more elaborate than 2-layer PCBs.
Comparison of 2- and 4-layer PCBs based on their respective designs
- 2-layer PCB Design
More surface area is available for the conductor layout in a 2-layer PCB design. The 2-layer PCB has twice the surface area of a 1-layer PCB. Vias enable traces to be routed to the opposite side of the PCB. Therefore all connections are made via vias.
- 4-layer PCB Design
A 4-layer PCB has a larger surface area than a 2-layer design. When designing a 4-layer PCB, the plan is more complicated than that of a 2-layer circuit board. Heat and pressure are needed to adhere the prepregs between the top and lower outer layers.
Counting the number of distinct conductor designs is easy to determine the number of layers in a PCB. The number of conductor designs matches the number of PCB layers. A typical 4-layer PCB design has four distinct conductor layouts that are easy to recognize.
Functionality of 2-layer and 4-layer PCBs
The 2-layer PCB has no propagation delay in terms of functionality. It is easier to construct microstrip traces on the ground plane because fewer layers are to contend with. A 4-layer PCB’s functionality may suffer from impedance issues or propagation delays due to the signal’s increased complexity.
Thus, 4-layer PCBs may be used in systems where signal latency is not a significant issue. They are also appropriate for devices that will be in use for long periods because of the insulation and heat resistance provided by the ground, VCC, and two signal layers on these circuit boards.
Cost-Based Comparison of 2- and 4-layer PCBs
The 2 Layer PCB cost is lesser due to the simple design. The design of a 4-layer PCB is more complicated. A greater degree of skill and experience is required to put this design together. A four-layer PCB is thus costlier to design than the two-layer type.
In addition to reducing distortion and enhancing propagation levels, the 4-layer PCB’s sophisticated architecture allows it to do so. The 4 Layer PCB cost is higher as it offers improved performance it provides via improved signal integrity and interference reduction to zero.
Developers are willing to spend more for a 4-layer PCB since it makes it simpler to obtain remarkable features in their products; they prefer it over a 2-layer PCB.
Prototyping Using 2- and 4-layer PCBs: Performance Differences
Manual prototyping is a thing of the past. Prototyping of both 2-layer and 4-layer PCBs may be done fast and simply using tools like Gerber. Building a 4-layer PCB is no more difficult than making a 2-layer PCB since you are just adding additional layers.
The intricacy of the design does not make the prototype more difficult since it makes it nearly an automated process, which removes the work from the development stage of the product.
Outsourcing PCB prototyping is a common practice for most firms. When it comes to creating prototypes, these professionals have a ready-to-use system. To ensure that your PCB prototype is produced on time and error-free, it is best to hire a professional PCB designer that has experience working with similar projects.
Prototyping services provided by the specialists use bespoke design tools. Additionally, they have working manufacturing lines, an online quoting system that responds immediately, and the ability to submit Gerber files quickly.
Prototyping concerns are no longer a concern for PCB designers because of these characteristics. As a result, both 2- and 4-layer PCBs work just as well for prototyping.
Main Points for Comparison Between 2-layer and 4-layer
There are a few things to consider when deciding between a 2-layer and 4-layer PCB. So, have a look at whether a two-layer or four-layer PCB solution is best for your application:
- A device’s internal components must be as small as possible to maximize functioning in a restricted area. It’s a 4-layer PCB, lower in size but more capable. As a result, 4-layer PCBs are more suited to creating small and feature-rich devices.
- Devices with more complicated functionality may benefit from 4-layer PCBs, which are well-suited to such devices. For this reason, 4-layer PCB is the best solution for gadgets that need to be unique in their operation.
- 4-layer PCBs are excellent for gadgets since they enable improved endurance. Despite the higher 4 Layer PCB cost, it offers a longer shelf-life. Because of the sturdy operation of 4-layer PCBs, they continue to operate as if they were brand new.
- Regarding regulating the cost of a device, 2-layer PCBs may be more effective than single-layer PCBs. Reduced-cost electronics may benefit from 2-layer PCBs because of lower 2 Layer PCB costs.
- If you need to create devices rapidly, a 2-layer PCB may help you fulfill your deadline. 5. As a result of its simpler design, a 2-layer PCB is a more suitable solution for device production.
Additionally, you need to examine the frequency of operation, signal flow design, and density needed while deciding. As a result of these factors, it is necessary to compare two-layer PCBs vs. four-layer PCBs.
The design complexity of 2-layer and 4-layer PCBs is different. Also, the thickness and the time it takes to develop are different. 2 Layer PCB costs I lower than 4-layer PCBA since they are less complicated and needless materials. As a result, 4 Layer PCB cost is greater.
Nevertheless, 4-layer PCBs are a superior choice since they allow greater functionality. Due to the availability of software and professional design services, they perform equally well in the prototype creation process.