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What does a Printed Circuit Board Do?(The Ultimate Guide in 2021)

printed circuit board

Is All Revolution Possible Without PCB Boards?

Although we are living in a modern world that is full of electronic gadgets their working principles are still a mystery for us.

In fact, all the revolutions that we are experiencing today have been possible only because of the different types of the printed circuit boards.

What exactly is a Printed Circuit Board, how it works, or is the latest revolution in electronic gadgets possible without PCB boards. All these terms are a mystery for every common man.

Actually, we are here to discuss them in detail so that everyone can easily understand what does a printed circuit board do? It is really important as building something without a complete understanding of the theory behind it is impossible.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

What is a Printed Circuit Board?

PCB boards or Printed Circuit Boards are actually the basic building blocks of all modern electronic gadgets. Basically, they are present in all your simple to complex devices as without them any function is not possible.

Moreover, printed circuit boards are the basis on which all of the other electronic components are assembled onto. PCB boards are actually electrical and mechanical attributes that are ideal for use in electronic applications.

Today these PCB boards are used in all application across industries, such as

  • Medical
  • Aerospace
  • Military
  • As well as all commercial and industrial applications.

Why is it Called a Printed Circuit Board?

In fact, at first, in the United States in 1925, Charles Ducas developed a special method using electroplating. Moreover, he tried to create an electrical path directly on an insulated surface with the help of printing through a stencil using special ink that could conduct electricity (like wires).

Basically, the stencil is a shape that is cut into paper or board. Hence, this special method was first called “printed wiring” or “printed circuit board.”

What is a Printed Circuit Board Called?

When we look behind, we examine that after inventing the PCB boards in 1936, they totally revolutionized electrical engineering. If we generally talk about these boards, we will find that these were only PCB boards that made it possible to mass-produce electronic devices for the first time.  

Actually, they are also called “printed wiring cards” or “printed wiring boards” but the most common name is “printed circuit board.”

What is the Purpose of a Printed Circuit Board?

The main purpose of the PCB board is to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components by using;

  • Conductive tracks
  • Pathways
  • Or signal traces.

Furthermore, these conductive pathways are etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate.

What are the Different Types of the Printed Circuit Boards?

There are generally three main types of printed circuit boards. These are;

  1. Single-Sided Board
  2. Double-Sided Board
  3. Multi-Layered Board.

Single-Sided Board:

Basically, these are some of the simplest types of PCB boards. As they have only one layer of substrate/circuitry so printed circuit board manufacturers call it signal sided.

Moreover, PCB manufacturers fix all electrical components and parts on one side with leads thru. the board holes to the electrical connections/copper traces on the other side.

Actually, single-sided boards are useful to use when a low level of technology is needed.

Double-Sided Board:

These are generally the most common type of PCB board. in these boards, manufacturers attach all parts and circuit board components to either side of the substrate. Hence, both of the sides have connecting traces together and have connections.

Furthermore, all these double-sided PCBs make use of through-hole as well as SMT components.

Multi-Layered Board:

These types of printed circuit boards have several layers of substrates. Additionally, in these multi-layer PCB boards, printed circuit board manufacturers separate these substrates by insulation/dielectrics.

Usually, multi-layer boards have 4,6,8, and 10 layers. But the number of layers can also exceed over 42 layers. Basically, the electronic engineers make use of the multilayer PCB boards in highly complex electronic devices.

Although there are several other types of PCB boards such as;

Almost 90% of PCBs that printed circuit board manufacturers produce and are used in the world are rigid. On the other hand, flexible PCB boards only comprise roughly 10% of the market.

What are the Circuit Board Components?

Sometimes we may surprise by how electronic gadgets are working in such an efficient way. Actually, all this is only possible because of PCB boards. Moreover, all the performance provided by PCB boards is only because the components on a PCB work together to form a complete system to power our devices.

In fact, circuit board components are just like major cities. For example, inside any electronic gadget PCB boards is a city that never sleeps. These are always active to serve you the way you want.

Circuit boards actually act as backbones keeping everything compacted and connected in a form that is easy to use.

How Many Types of Printed Circuit Board Components are?

There are 13 most commonly used electronic components such as,

  1. Resistors
  2. Capacitors
  3. Inductors
  4. Potentiometers
  5. Transformers
  6. Diodes
  7. Batteries
  8. Transistors
  9. Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR)
  10. Integrated Circuits
  11. Crystal Oscillators
  12. Switches and Relays
  13. Sensors

What is Printed Circuit Board Design?

In fact, Printed Circuit Board design has the ability to bring your electronic circuits to life in a physical form. Moreover, in this process, printed circuit board manufacturers combine component placement and routing in order to define electrical connectivity on a manufactured circuit board using layout software.

There are lots of software that PCB manufacturers use for designing PCB boards such as;

  • Fusion 360.
  • Autodesk EAGLE.
  • KiCad EDA.
  • Diptrace.
  • CAM350.
  • Ultiboard.
  • SolidWorks PCB.
  • ExpressPCB Plus.

Which Software is Best for Printed Circuit Board Design in 2021?

All the above PCB designs software are perfect to use while designing your PCB boards. But the top 5 ideal design software are:

  1. Altium Designer.
  2. NI Multisim.
  3. Fusion 360.
  4. KiCad EDA.
  5. Autodesk EAGLE.

You can easily use these Printed Circuit Board designs to design your own PCB boards. 

How does a Circuit Board Work?

In general terms, a circuit board is actually a printed circuit board that has electrically conductive pathways like ‘traces’. Moreover, these traces connect all the electronic components to each other.

In fact, printed circuit boards are one of the most important inventions of modern days. These boards are the main reason for the onset of electronic technology. All the latest inventions that are present all around us are only become possible because of these circuit boards.

How does a Circuit Board Transmit Information?

The PCB boards that printed circuit boards manufacturers create can hold an electronic circuit together. Moreover, a complete PCB that has all circuit board components attached is a printed circuit board assembly.

It is also popular with the name of a PCBA. The PCB manufacturers may use many stacks in a PCB board mostly they create 10 stacked PCB boards. The most common PCB component such as vias is used to connect the individual PCBs.

Further, they form a three-dimensional electronic circuit.

What is the Difference between a Motherboard and a Circuit Board?

Basically, a PCB board is an uncovered printed circuit board or a plane circuit board. It is actually bare that has no mounted components on it.

While a motherboard is the PCB board that already has all the printed circuit components mounted on it. Moreover, in most devices such as in computers, a motherboard generally has smaller boards plugged onto it.

Why is a Circuit Board Important?

All and all, PCB boards are extremely important in all modern electronic gadgets. They are highly advantageous to use in both domestic uses or for industrial purposes. In fact, they are the core of all modern advancements and without these boards, we may not able to see such advancements in the electronic industry that we are experiencing today.

Actually, except for electrically connecting, it also can give mechanical support to all electrical components.

The Printed Circuit Boards are the basis of all electronic devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, and so on. We can never imagine our lives without all these smart gadgets and these gadgets are totally dependent on PCB boards.

In fact, all the latest revolution in the electronic industry is not possible without PCB boards.

Performing Tying Operations

Electrical connections on both sides of the substrate are achieved by drilling through holes according to the wiring. The drilled holes are then covered with a conductive material from the inside.

A multilayer electronic PCB is characterized by a substrate consisting of several layers of printed circuit boards. Each layer is separated from the adjacent layer by an insulator insert.

Electronic components are bonded through board holes drilled to the edge of the target layer. The PCB parts are electrically combined in one of two ways:

  1. Through holes.
  2. Surface mounting.

Through hole technology, each electronic part is endowed with micro-conductors. These micro-conductors pass through holes in the substrate, lead to the opposite side circuit points, and solder them.

printed circuit board 1

                                                                                                                                         Fig 1.

ling holes on the working area of the PCB: 1 – holes without contact between the sides (layers); 2 – coated holes for contact connection; 3 – copper shell of the connecting holes

Surface mount technology involves the use of straight (J-shaped) or angled (L-shaped) legs. Due to these branches, each electronic part is directly tied to the printed circuit.

By applying a complex paste (glue + flux + solder), electronic parts are temporarily held at the point of contact. The hold continues until the printed electronic board is inserted into the oven. There the solder melts and connects the circuit parts.

Despite the complexity of component placement, surface mount technology has another important advantage.

This technique eliminates the lengthy drilling process and the introduction of tie shims as is the practice for the legacy through hole method. However, both technologies continue to be actively used.

Electronic PCB Design

Each separately taken printed circuit board of electronics (batch of boards) is designed for a unique functionality. Designers of electronic printed circuit boards turn to design systems and specialized “software” to lay out a circuit on a printed circuit board.

printed circuit board 2

                                                                                                                                           FiG 2.

The structure of the photoresist coating: 1 – plastic film; 2 – overlapping side; 3 – sensitive side of the photoresist panel.

The gap between the conductive tracks is usually measured in values of not more than 1 mm. Hole points are calculated for component conductors or contact points.

All this information is translated into the format of the computer software that controls the drilling machine. An automatic soldering iron for the manufacture of electronic printed circuit boards is programmed in the same way .

Once the circuit diagram is laid out, the negative of the circuit image (mask) is transferred to a transparent sheet of plastic. Areas of the negative image that are not included in the image of the circuit are marked in black, and the circuit itself remains transparent.

Industrial Manufacture of Printed Circuit Boards of Electronics

Electronics PCB manufacturing technologies provide for a clean environment. The atmosphere and objects of industrial premises are monitored by automatic equipment for the presence of contamination.

printed circuit board 3

                                                                                                                                        Fig 3.

Flexible PP structure: 1, 8 – polyimide film; 2, 9 – linking 1; 3-binding 2; 4 – template; 5 – base polyimide film; 6 – adhesive film; 7 – template

Many companies producing electronic printed circuit boards practice unique production. And in a standard form, the manufacture of a double-sided printed electronic circuit board traditionally involves the following steps:

Making the base

  1. Fiberglass is taken and passed through the technological module.
  2. Impregnated with epoxy (immersion, spray).
  3. The fiberglass is rolled on a machine to the desired substrate thickness
  4. Dry the substrate in an oven and fold onto large panels.
  5. The panels are arranged in stacks, alternating with copper foil and adhesive coated backing.

Finally, the stacks are placed under a press, where at a temperature of 170 ° C and a pressure of 700 kg / mm 2 , they are pressed for 1-2 hours. The epoxy hardens and the copper foil is press-bonded to the backing material.

Drilling and tinning holes

  1. Several panels of the substrate are taken, stacked one on top of the other, rigidly fixed.
  2. The folded stack is placed in a CNC machine, where holes are drilled according to the schematic drawing.
  3. The holes made are cleaned of excess material.
  4. The inner surfaces of the conductive holes are coated with copper.
  5. Non-conductive holes remain uncoated.

Production of a Drawing of a Printed Circuit Board

A sample PCB circuit is created using the additive or subtractive principle. In the case of the additive version, the substrate is coated with copper according to the desired pattern. In this case, the part outside the circuit remains unprocessed.

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