Many consider the printed circuit board, more widely known as the PCB, as the key building block of modern technology. Without it, the developers of some of the most popular pieces of modern gadgetry would be at a complete standstill. These developers would not have been able to build multi-purpose small-sized phones or ‘smart’ television sets.
Without PCBs, humanity would probably still be in the dark ages of technological invention. This would probably prompt you to ask: what exactly is a PCB and how come it’s so important?
A printed circuit board physically supports the internal wirings of an electrical device. It serves as a base where all the wires are arranged and organized to allow the proper flow of electrical current through all the components. The PCB also serves as a base that supports the different wires for sending signals and instructions from one part of the device to another.
For instance, when a phone user enters a number and presses the call button on his phone, the components mounted on the board will send the instruction to call onto the correct component that is responsible for placing calls. Because it serves as the backbone of every electronic device, the Printed circuit boards has to be made out of durable material. The materials used should also be non-conductors of electricity in order to avoid accidental electrocutions.
This is why most PCB manufacturers use a thin sheet of fiberglass as the base of the PCB and they then cover this up with a thin sheet of copper plating. There are also a few manufacturers who use plastic sheets as the base and then reinforce this with a layer of glass. The copper sheet is then added on top of this glass-reinforced base.
The copper layer of the PCB base is important because it is where the circuit’s pattern or design would be printed on. This design is normally created on a computer first and then printed using an industrial printer onto hundreds of base boards. The designs vary according to the purpose through which the finished product would be used.
This means that the design on a cell phone’s PCB is different from the PCB design of a smart TV or an electronic toy. The only thing that all these electronic devices have in common is that they all need the PCBs to be able to do their jobs well.
The different components on a PCB are mounted using two different methods:
1.Surface mount technology
This method involves sticking the various components onto the PCB base using solder paste. This is highly beneficial for manufacturers who wish to save on the costs for handling the PCB materials. Manufacturers just have to make sure that the mounting process is done in a clean room environment. This can help them to avoid incurring any damages on the components due to changes in the static level.
This method involves inserting the tips of each component onto holes on the base board. These holes are pre-drilled onto the board during the design printing process. This method is mostly used by manufacturers whose electronic products have to have a high level of reliability.
Products that are pegged for use in the military or in aeronautics are often created using through-hole technology on its PCBs. This is because these products often encounter extreme conditions such as drastic changes in temperature and the like.
Some manufacturers also combine these two methods of mounting the components onto the printed circuit board. This enables them to harness the advantages of both methods, which means that their end-products are ultimately of higher quality.