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If you are not familiar with technology, you still might have heard of the term ‘printed circuit board’ (PCB). What is a PCB and how is it important to many applications in technology? A PCB is the board base for wiring and physically supporting the socketed and surface-mounted components in a wide range of electronic devices.

In applications wherein minuscule conductive traces are required, like in computers, printed circuit boards are made by a photolithographic procedure, in a bigger-scale version of how processors’ conductive paths are created.

Printed Circuit BoardsNormally, electronic components are machine-positioned onto a finished PCB, which has solder dabs in position. The PCB is then baked in an industrial oven in order for the solder to melt. This process integrates the connections. Many PCBs are made of glass-reinforced plastics or fiberglass with traces of copper.

Printed circuit boards for simple electronic devices can be single-layer. PCBs for more complicated hardware, like computer motherboards or graphic cards, may have up to 12 layers.

Although PCBs can come in any color, most of them are colored green. Other ways to make PCBs include CNC-milling and silk-screening.

Why are PCBs Important?

The invention of PCBs is one of the main reasons why electronic circuits are now more compact, smaller, and are contained on a rugged yet convenient board. The holes drilled into the boards enable components like capacitors and resistors to pass through and be soldered via automation.

Nowadays, nearly every piece of technology or electronic appliance in your office or home has a PCB of some sort: televisions, printers, computers, musical instrument synthesizers and amplifiers, microwave ovens, digital clocks, cell phones, and telephone answering machines, among other devices.

Even the computers small size can now be attributed to printed circuit boards. A computer’s motherboard is the main PCB that is the computer’s heart. Other PCBs in a computer can do various other functions like random access memory (RAM), modems, video ‘cards,’ and power supplies.

Design of PCBs

While many PCBs are comprised of similar materials, there is no standard PCB design. Every board has a specific function for a certain product and should be designed to function in the allotted space. Designers of printed circuit boards use CAD (computer aided design) to lay out the board’s circuit pattern.

The spaces between the conducting paths of electricity are no more than 1.00 mm (0.04 inches). The holes for contact points and component leads are located and laid out. The information then becomes instructions for a drilling machine that is computer numerical- controlled or for the solder pester (automatic) used in manufacturing.

Upon the laying out of the circuit pattern, a mask or negative image is printed out on a transparent plastic sheet at an exact sizing. Through the use of the negative image, areas not included in the circuit pattern are indicated in black. The circuit pattern is clear.

Safety Considerations and the Future

The solder utilized in making the connections on printed circuit boards has lead, which is deemed toxic. Moreover, the solder’s fumes can be hazardous to the health. Thus, soldering operations should be done in a closed yet ventilated environment. The fumes from the soldering process should be appropriately extracted and cleaned before being released into the atmosphere.

PCBs will still be used in the coming decades for their importance in the manufacture of electronic devices. Electronic products’ miniaturization will still drive PCB manufacturing towards more densely-packed and smaller boards with more electronic capabilities.

Advancements beyond PCBs include integrated circuit chips and 3D-molded plastic boards. Many other advancements will keep the making of PCBs a dynamic industry for decades to come and humanity will still continue to reap the benefits.

Author Bio:
Every piece of technology or electronic appliance in your office or home has a PCB of some sort: televisions, printers, computers, musical instrument synthesizers. To know more about PCB visit : Pcbnet.