A printed circuit board has a variety of uses. Here are the most common reasons that you might use a printed circuit board.
The printed circuit board market is expected to reach $33.39 billion by 2025. These essential tools make up the core of various electronics. Almost every electronic device you own will have a printed circuit board inside it, helping it send all the necessary signals.
Not everyone realizes how important or common these circuit boards are or what they do. Knowing this will help you better understand all of your devices.
Read our guide to find out what printed circuit boards are, how PCBs are made, and the numerous PCB uses.
What is a Printed Circuit Board?
Those who don’t work in the electronic or engineering industry may not know what a printed circuit board is or how it works. It’s important to understand them and how they contribute to the entire electronics industry.
A printed circuit board is the base component of many electronics like motherboards and network or graphic cards. They provide mechanical support and creates electronic pathways. Circuit boards have been around almost as long as technology itself. They allow for all the complex communications that need to occur constantly for electronic devices to work. That’s what makes them so important.
There are many types, but printed circuit boards are one of the cheapest, most common, and most useful. They have a unique manufacturing process that sets them apart from all other options.
Printing is the process of placing each component onto the base material known as a substrate. It gives the technology its name and is the basis of how an electronic printed circuit board is manufactured.
The specific materials needed for a circuit board vary depending on the company and the purpose of the product. They usually include forms of metal, electronic components, and a substrate to place it all on. It’s best to choose conductive options like copper so that all the electrical signals can travel freely.
Printed circuit boards are one of the cheapest options to mass-produce. This allows companies to survive making nothing else. Circuit boards of all types are a critical part of the electronics industry. Printed circuit boards are the most efficient, so they’re in high demand.
Making Printed Circuit Boards
Part of understanding printed circuit boards is knowing the components that make them up and how they’re manufactured.
There are three main types of printed circuit boards. Choosing one depends on the needs of the individual device. Single-sided boards have all the necessary components on one side. Double-sided boards put the components on both sides. Multi-component boards have their components spread out through multiple circuit layers. Each one is protected by insulation.
The manufacturing process for printed circuit boards requires multiple steps:
- The first step is to make the substrate, the base material that all the other components sit on. It’s usually made of fiberglass but can be swapped out for a cheaper component if budgeting is a concern.
- Another important step is creating the circuit pattern. The circuits are made of copper. They allow the printed circuit board to communicate with other parts of a device.
- Attaching the contact fingers helps electronic signals travel through the circuit board properly. They’re made of layers of materials, including tin-lead, nickel, and gold. They have to have high conductivity to keep the system working well.
- Making the panels is a crucial step, and a mistake here could ruin the entire circuit board. Mounting the components together is another complex process best left to a professional.
- The final step is packaging the printed circuit board to be sent off for sale.
There aren’t many standards to follow when designing a printed circuit board. Each one needs to be carefully manufactured to meet the requirements of the device it’ll be placed into. Computer design systems help ensure that everything’s exactly the right size and shape.
Uses for Printed Circuit Boards
The electronics industry would collapse without circuit boards because they are essential to the proper functioning of almost every electronic device.
Printed circuit boards do so cheaply and efficiently. This is what makes them one of the most common options for electronic manufacturers.
Circuit boards help electronic devices perform essential tasks like computing, communicating, and transferring data.
The main purpose of a circuit board is to send electronic signals to other components of an electronic device. This allows signals to flow freely so each part of the device can communicate with all the others.
A printed circuit board can handle a single function like data transfer or multiple functions like data storage and display. Complex devices like cell phones or computers need a multi-function circuit board, but smaller devices can use a single-function option.
A printed circuit board also keeps all electronic components properly insulated to prevent overheating. This alone is an essential function as it extends the lifespan of devices and their individual parts.
Printed circuit boards are highly customizable and can be made to do almost anything that an electronic device needs to do. They can help a cell phone pick up a signal or a computer compute. As long as they’re manufactured carefully using the right parts and specifications, their uses are almost endless.
As technology grows, new uses for printed circuit boards to power them are discovered every day. Learn why drones are the new frontier for printed circuit boards.
Where to Get a Printed Circuit Board
A printed circuit board is a critical part of all kinds of electronics. It lets all the parts communicate, sending the appropriate signals throughout.
Printed circuit boards are made by carefully placing the necessary components onto a substrate, usually made of fiberglass. The manufacturing process differs depending on the final product. It is highly complex and requires the careful hands of a professional.
Almost any electronic manufacturer can make a printed circuit board, but their quality varies. Make sure to get one from the best possible provider.