All about Printed Circuit Boards

A printed circuit board is what supports and connects electronic components through the use of pads, tracks and other materials from copper sheets laminated to non-conductive substrates. It allows signals and power to travel between physical devices.

Circuit boards are usually created out of glass-fiber or plastic and resin composites and have copper traces, but other materials can be used for PCBs such as composite epoxy, fiberglass or other laminate material.

PCBs are found in various devices such as pagers, beepers and radios to the most modern computer and radar systems. PCBs are flat and firm, but the substrates are flexible and are capable of fitting in convoluted spaces.

PCB Classification

Printed circuit boards can be classified according to the number of layers: they can be single sided (one layer), double sided (two layers), or multi-layered (with outer and inner layers).

Here are the layers in detail:

1. Single-sided – The components are found only on one side of the substrate. This is used by simple electronic devices.

2. Double-sided – used when the number of components are not enough for a single-sided layer; holes are drilled into the substrate to provide electrical connections between circuits

3. Multi-layered – Substrates comprise of layers of printed circuits with layers of insulation in between. This is ideal for complex hardware such as motherboards and graphic cards.

Printed circuit boards can come in any color, but they’re usually green.

Brief History

The systems involved in the creation of printed circuit boards were said to develop during the 1850s on which metal rods or strips were used to connect large components placed on wooden bases.

Come 1925, a patent was submitted by Charles Ducas for the creation of an electrical path on an insulated surface. This is done through printing stencils with the help electrically conductive inks, which is the reason behind the names “printed circuit” or “printed wiring”.

Printed Circuit BoardsBefore the PCBs were created, circuits were made through a tedious process of wiring from one point to another. This set-up triggered frequent failures such as short circuiting when insulation starts to grow old and crack.

As time passed, people started to use vacuum tubes, as well as silicon and integrated circuits. It was also during these times when the costs and size of electronic components became smaller too.

Electronic items and gadgets became more prevalent in the market, and this led manufacturers to find ways in making the sizes and costs of electronic products even smaller; hence, the PCB was born.

What do PCBs do?

Printed circuit boards are capable of routing signals and providing power through electronic devices, giving both electrical and mechanical connections. Copper sheets are etched with conductive tracks or pathways to give the PCB’s basic layouts.A PCB is utilized in almost all electronic devices. Don’t confuse them with printed wiring boards;PCBs have circuit elements fused into the board’s nonconductive substrate.

PCBs are used in computers (desktop & laptop). PCBs serve as the base of various computer components such as network interface cards, video cards, expansion cards and controller cards. All of these components are connected to the motherboard which, as previously mentioned, is a PCB as well.

PCBs may almost always be associated with computers but other electronic devices use them as well. PCBs are found in radios, cellphones, tablets, TVs, and digital cameras. Mobile devices have PCBs that appear similar to that of computers and other large electronics, but theirs are thinner and have finer circuitry.

A printed circuit board is one of the basic parts of the electronic items and gadgets that people love today. Without PCBs, these items won’t be as smooth and functional as you see them today.