A printed circuit board is a part of an electronic device that you will not see immediately. This is a piece of hardware that connects each component of an electronic device together, but it does so in a compact way. Each component will be connected to a board, and this board will have an electronic circuit pattern printed onto it, which connects each component to allow them to perform the task that they were designed to do. Each pattern is designed properly so that each component will connect to the only other component that it needs to “talk” to, and will not interrupt other components in the circuit. This piece of hardware can also be known as a “printed wiring board” or a “printed wiring card.”
A printed circuit board would have multiple parts, even though it looks simple at first. To make a circuit board, it starts with choosing the material to make the board out of. The material has to be either a semiconductor, or it can be a totally insulated device to prevent any interference with the circuit or the electricity that will flow through it. The most common material used will be fibreglass, a lightweight material, but can be easily manipulated, and is inexpensive to manufacture.
Designers usually use computer-aided software to create the pattern that will be “printed” onto a printed circuit board. This helps the designer further to make sure each component will fit properly into the circuit board, and that the paths that they will be making onto the circuit will connect properly, and not interfere with the other parts of the circuit board. They also designate which hole goes to where during this process. If ever the circuit board becomes a multilayer board, during this process, everything is thoroughly checked to ensure quality.
The conductive material used to create the printed circuit board is usually copper. During the earlier days, a copper foil will be used and pasted at the bottom part of the board to create the circuit needed, then the components will be either soldered or riveted to it. With modern production, putting the circuits in is made differently. The copper is now “etched” into the board to ensure that the design will not weather down and the circuit will then hold properly.
Installing the components of the board is also done differently. Before, there will be plated through holes, where each component will be fit through the holes. Old ways of keeping each component in its place was through either screws or rivets. Soldering the component using solder was then introduced to ensure that there will be a better contact between the component and the circuit. Each plated through hole would have a copper ring around it to also make sure the contact is there.
There are also different ways of placing a component into a printed circuit board. The Through-Mount technology is what was already mentioned. That will be involving drilling holes through the board, and marking them with an annular ring. The component would then fit into the hole, and then soldered in place. The other method would be the Surface Mount Technology. This would then involve inserting, or “stamping” the component directly onto the board. This also allowed a faster means of connecting a component onto a circuit board and that there will be no need for soldering. This is usually used if ever the component to be placed will just be a small part, like a resistor.
All of these allowed for a faster and more cost-efficient production of electronic devices, and it also allowed opening the path for new possibilities regarding modern technology. Faster and more compact devices are now made, thanks to improving the circuit boards further.