Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are the most fundamental foundation of all electronic products. They are the thin plates that hold the entire electronic component interconnections. They make up the circuitry of electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones, radios, amplifiers, power supplies, radars, and many more. Each board is designed and assembled for a specific purpose and performs different tasks depending on the design of the module.
PCBs designed for the same purposes can have different layouts and structures depending on the designers’ or manufacturers’ preference. Moreover, a single unit may be made single-functional or multifunctional. Over the years, the functions of PCBs have become extremely varied. Hence, as PCBs have become highly available in the products used today, it is important to understand them better by knowing their parts and components. The essential parts of printed circuit boards are the base, conductive track, electronic components, and external connectors.
The base of the PCB is a thin board made of an insulating material, usually plastic or fiberglass. It provides mechanical support to the components. It may be rigid or flexible, as long as it can hold and support all the components. The material of the base can affect the electrical properties of the entire circuit since it is dependent on the dielectric properties of the board’s material. Thus, it must be known and controlled, especially in manual PCB construction.
On the surface of the non-conducting board is a conductive track that takes the form of thin strips or shapes that resemble a path. It is made of a thin layer of pure conductive material, such as copper, that was deposited or printed to the board to create the electrical interconnection of the components, and to provide solder able attachment points. These conductive tracks must be firmly attached to the base to secure electrical continuity, especially during manual PCB construction.
The electronic components usually contained in PCBs are integrated circuits, memory chips, I/O devices, processors, circuit components like relays, diodes, fuses, etc. and passive components such as capacitors and resistors. They are attached to the board, specifically in place with the conductive tracks, using different attachment methods like through-hole and surface-mount. The positions of the components are dependent on the circuit design and conductive track layout.
Along one or more corners of the board are the connectors (like contact fingers, terminal blocks, and sockets) used to link the board to other external hardware components or other boards. These connectors are the gateway to the electrical segments of the PCB.
When the board provides electrical and mechanical support, and all the essential parts are present and connected appropriately, printed circuit boards are produced. PCBs are about the physical structure that holds the components in place and the electrical interconnection that they provide between the components. The term “printed” became customary since the conductive tracks are usually produced through a printing process such as photoengraving and screen printing. However, in the United States, the term Printed Wiring Board (PWB) is more often used instead of Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
All the parts of the PCB are equally important to form a fully operational board. Many industries have emerged ever since the discovery of printed circuit boards. The demand for PCBs would certainly not be diminished in the future as they are vital to every electronic and electrical device. The growing miniaturization of integrated circuits requires PCBs to be minimized in size while upgrading function and performance. This imposes an addition to its value and functionality. Because of this, anyone could argue that PCBs are so important that any related technology today would not be in existence if not because of them.
Printed Circuit Boards are truly a partner in the design, manufacture, application, and interconnection in any electronic technology.
www.pcbnet.com industry sees the future of circuitry into tiny boards that allow gigantic amount of functionalities.