What is a Printed Circuit Board

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Printed Circuit Board

A PCB (printed circuit board) mechanically supports electronic parts that are electrically connected with the help of conductive pathways, traces etched from copper sheets that are laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. Much of the electronic industry’s assembly, PCB design, and quality control needs are set by standards that are set by the IPC organization. The main generic standard for the design of a printed circuit is IPC-2221A, regardless of the material used to manufacture the board.

Circuit boards consist of an insulator that consists of one or numerous layers of material glued into a single entity. The additional layers serve as grounding to the board. The copper traces are either created by laying down individual lines mechanically or by coating the entire board in copper and stripping away the excess. By stripping away the excess, the needed printed circuits are left which connect electronic parts.

Many Low Volume PCB Assembly shops can help with the design process and offer high-end features such as an auto-router and trace optimizer which can drastically decrease the layout time. However, the best results for laying out it are achieved by at least some manual routing.

These days, once the design process has been carried out using computer-aided design (CAD) and a plan, has been formed the manufacture of PCBs can be fast as it is automated through machinery and computer technology. The next part is the testing and quality control element of the process.

While many inventors had versions of PCBs it was an Austrian engineer called Paul Eisler who is credited with creating the printed circuit in 1936. Fast forward to the 1980s and boards became much smaller and had more functionality and the production costs came down significantly due to the ability to mass produce the boards and components.

The fact that the circuit is on a fixed board offers uniformity to the design and therefore finding and identifying problematic components is much easier. This means that they are much quicker to fix and maintain. This also means the chances of making a mistake in rewiring are much lower as the electronics are in a set place.

Custom PCB

These days, there are various kinds of Low Volume PCB Assembly available in a variety of materials and finishes. The thickness of a circuit board varies based on the number of layers and can be as thin as 1.0mm (0.0394″). They can be single-sided or multi-layered with cooper clad of 1-oz or higher. Although these are standard PCBs available in the market, you can get customize them to suit your needs. The key is to find the right PCB manufacturer to make the boards to your specifications.

A custom PCB can be made in several ways. For instance, flex circuit boards are designed to be very flexible. This allows it to be placed in positions that are otherwise not possible or to be used in wire systems. A PCB can also be used in satellites, spaceships, and other machines in outer space. Rigid copper cores are designed in a way that conducts heat away from the sensitive parts and protects them in the extreme temperatures they experience.

Some circuit boards are designed with an interior conductive layer to transfer power to various parts without using extra traces. These customized needs are circuit boards that are ordered by companies to fulfill specific requirements with limited space. In addition, PCBs are also used by students and electronic hobbyists for their custom projects and applications.

Advantages

  • Are cost-effective and highly reliable.
  • Economical for high-volume production.
  • Have color codes for different connections and are therefore easy to install.
  • Mention the rating of the device which helps in its maintenance.

Disadvantages

  • More layout effort.
  • Higher initial cost as compared to point-to-point constructed circuits or wire-wrapped.
  • Etching of circuit boards generates chemicals that are dangerous to the environment.
  • Cannot be updated once it gets printed.

PCB prototypes and low-volume PCBs are available in the inexpensive market and meet the majority of needs. Free PCB software can easily be found online these days. It is simple to use by an amateur and efficient for a professional. PCB circuit boards are designed especially for each circuit and make construction very easy.