Skip to main content

Ceramic vs Plastic Package — Electronics Packaging Duality

Key Takeaways

  • Packaging materials like ceramics and plastics ensure insulation, corrosion protection, and essential functions, with ceramics excelling in reliability and plastics in cost-effective commercial applications.

  • Ceramics provide hermeticity for extreme conditions like space and military use, while plastics suit controlled environments and commercial electronics despite lacking hermetic sealing.

  • Plastics are cost-effective and compact, ideal for portability, while ceramics excel in heat transfer for high-temperature scenarios and robust protection in larger sizes for extreme conditions.

 ICs and through-hole passive components manufactured using ceramic or plastic packaging)

Both ICs and through-hole passive components can be manufactured using ceramic or plastic packaging.

Electronic packaging is more than a simple enclosure; it ensures electrical insulation, shields against corrosion, and orchestrates vital functions. For components prone to handling or environmental exposure, insulation and protection against corrosion and oxidation are key. This is where materials like ceramics and plastics play a role, providing a balance between safeguarding and heat dissipation. These materials encase components, offering heat escape channels through integrated heat sinks, tabs, or pins. Electronic packages undertake eight core roles that shape their performance: shielding components, safeguarding during manufacturing, connecting power and signals, facilitating mechanical connections, transferring heat, enabling consistent testing, and supporting integration within a confined space. Read on as we delve into ceramic vs. plastic packages' role.


Ceramic Packaging

Plastic Packaging

Electrical Insulation and Protection

Provides insulation, protection from oxidation

and corrosion; important for discrete components

Provides insulation, protection; not hermetic

Size and Weight

Bigger and heavier

Lighter and smaller

Hermetic Sealing

Fully hermetic

Not hermetic, advancements in near-hermetic protection


High-end, space applications, military, high-reliab.

Dominant in commercial electronics; controlled environments, man-portable systems

UV-Erasable Memory

Used for chips with UV-erasable memory; quartz window for UV light exposure

Not common for chips requiring quartz windows

Temperature Range

Stable under extreme temperature variations

May melt or break down under extreme temps.

Material Compatibility

Compatible with UV-erasable memory requirements and quartz windows


Concerns with thermal expansion, compatibility with chip requirements


Cost and Performance

Relatively expensive compared to plastic

Cost-effective due to automation, low material cost, 

Reliability and Environmental Protection

Reliable in harsh environments, used in military applications

Not as reliable in extreme conditions; concerns about moisture, long-term reliability

IC Ceramic Packaging Essentials

Ceramic packaging stands as a stalwart choice in high-end and space applications, driven by its exceptional attributes. It finds its niche in various arenas, notably housing UV-erasable memory chips that necessitate a quartz window to facilitate UV light exposure. Moreover, ceramic packaging finds a stronghold in RF and microwave applications, where its insulating and impedance properties prove pivotal for radar and communication systems. The hallmark of ceramic packaging is its complete hermeticity, offering robust defense against the intrusion of gases and moisture. This is reinforced by ceramics' ability to conduct heat effectively, maintain stability at elevated temperatures, and present smooth and reliable surfaces. Ceramic packaging advantages include:

  • Provides high reliability under severe environmental conditions.

  • Offers excellent heat transfer properties, suitable for high-temperature applications.

  • Suitable for applications requiring hermetic sealing and minimal gas/moisture permeability.

Challenges of ceramic packaging include:

  • Ceramic packages are bigger and heavier compared to plastic packages.

  • Manufacturing and testing of ceramic packages can add substantial cost.

  • Quartz windows are necessary for certain applications, adding complexity and cost.

All About IC Plastic Packaging

Plastic packaging has carved a niche within the realm of commercial electronics, driven by its economic feasibility and the benefits of reduced size and weight. It finds its primary application in scenarios where environmental conditions are less severe, and the demand for hermetic sealing is not paramount. The defining attributes of plastic packaging rest on its non-hermetic nature, permitting a controlled degree of gas and moisture permeation. This characteristic, however, makes plastics susceptible to dimensional shifts with changing humidity levels, potentially impacting factors like frequency tuning. Advantages to plastic packaging include:

  • Plastic packages are lightweight, cost-effective, and suitable for high-volume automated manufacturing.

  • Suited for applications where hermetic sealing is not a strict requirement.

  • Offers design flexibility for various forms and shapes.

Challenges of plastic packaging includes:

  • Vulnerable to higher temperatures; some chips can break down or melt plastic packaging.

  • Plastic packaging may absorb moisture, leading to issues like "popcorning" when exposed to high temperatures.

  • Some chips may produce heat that affects the stability of plastics

Ceramic vs Plastic Packages: A Comparison

Ceramic packaging excels in high-reliability, extreme environment applications due to its hermeticity and heat transfer properties. On the other hand, plastic packaging offers cost-effectiveness, lightweight designs, and flexibility. This makes it a preferred choice for commercial electronics where hermetic sealing is not critical.


  • Ceramic packages are fully hermetic and provide better gas and moisture protection.

  • Plastic packages are not hermetic, allowing some gas and moisture diffusion over time.

Size and Weight:

  • Plastic packages are smaller and lighter than ceramic packages, which can be advantageous for portable devices.


  • Plastic packages are generally more cost-effective due to their automated manufacturing processes and lower material costs.

  • Ceramic packages are more expensive due to their specialized manufacturing and hermetic sealing requirements.

Environmental Suitability:

  • Ceramic is suitable for extreme conditions, such as space and military applications, due to its reliability and hermeticity.

  • Plastic is suitable for commercial electronics and controlled environments but may not be ideal for harsh conditions.

Thermal Performance:

  • Ceramic packages offer better heat transfer properties, making them suitable for high-temperature applications.

  • Plastic packages can be sensitive to heat and may require additional measures for heat dissipation.

Design Flexibility:

  • Plastic packages offer more design flexibility in terms of shapes and forms.

  • Ceramic packages are relatively standardized due to their manufacturing processes.

Now that you’ve understood whether a ceramic vs plastic package is right for you, move on to designing it! Ready to optimize your electronic packaging?  Allegro X Advanced Package Designer offers the tools you need for efficient, reliable packaging solutions. Don't miss the chance to enhance your packaging strategies with Allegro X.