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Single Layer or Multi-Layer PCBs – Which is Best for Your Project?

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When it comes to choosing a printed circuit board, the first thing you need to think about is whether to use a multi-layer or single-layer PCB. Both designs come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to work out which one will work better for your project before you begin.

If you want to know some of the differences between single layer and multi-layer PCBs, then keep reading below:

Single Layer PCBs

Otherwise known as a single-sided board, a single-layer PCB is built with just one conductive layer. It has a substrate layer on the base, a conductive layer in the middle, and a protective layer on top.

Single layered boards are much simpler to produce than multi-layer PCBs. There are also several other advantages of using a single-layered PCB including:

  • The cost – they’re a lot cheaper to produce than multi-layer versions
  • Easier to design and produce – almost anyone can design a PCB and source the parts from sites like Octopart.com
  • They don’t take long to create
  • They can be produced in high volume

Some of the disadvantages of using a single-layer PCB include:

  • They have a lower operating capacity
  • They’re slower in speed than multi-layer PCBs
  • They can be larger in size
  • They can be too simplistic for more complex projects

Multi-Layer PCBs


Multi-layer PCBs are created by stacking multiple two-sided boards on top of one another. These boards can be built to suit your needs, meaning you can make them as large or small as you want.

The longest PCB ever created was 26 meters in length. Typically, these boards have between 4 and 12 layers. However, an uneven number of boards are more likely to warp or twist after soldering.

Multi-layer PCBs have conductive material on both sides of the substrate. In order to create a multi-layer PCB, double-layered boards are joined together using a special type of glue. They are then encased in a protective shield called a mask. This helps to protect them from damage.

Some of the advantages of using a multi-layer PCB include:

  • They’re useful for more complicated projects
  • They’re often better quality
  • They have a faster operating speed
  • They last longer
  • They’re relatively small in size
  • They have a single connection point

Some of the disadvantages of using a multi-layer PCB include:

  • They’re more expensive to produce
  • They take longer and are more difficult to produce
  • They’re harder to repair if problems occur

How to Choose Which PCB is Right for Your Project

PCB Design Tip

In order to work out which type of PCB is most suitable for your project, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • How complicated is the project?
  • How big does the board need to be – although this may not sound right, multi-layered PCBs are usually smaller than single-layer PCBs
  • How much time have you got to make the PCB?
  • Is durability important?

You will also need to think about things such as the signal layers and operation frequency you need. Answering these questions will help you to choose how many layers you want your PCB to contain.

If you’re planning on building a more complex computer device, then it’s advisable to consider a multi-layered PCB; however, if your device is less complex, then it might benefit from a single layer one.

Knowing the differences between the two will help you to decide which one is right for your project.