Printed Circuit Boards Are The Foundation Of Many Electronic Devices, From Computers To Mobile Phones
While these pieces of technology have many different components that make them up, they all share one important aspect – electrically conductive pathways called traces. This is what allows electronic signals to travel properly across the board and ensures that the device works the way it’s supposed to.
PCBs are one of the most important inventions that heralded the onset of modern technology. They’re used in most digital devices today and are the main reason why smartphones have grown so much in just a few years, becoming much more compact, yet still capable of doing all the things we demand of them.
There are several types of PCBs, ranging from single-layer How do circuit boards work to multi-layer ones. However, the process of making them is relatively the same. The first step is to prepare the substrate. This is usually made of fiberglass, although other materials can be used. Then, the manufacturers draw a wiring pattern on it using acid-resistant inks. The parts that have been covered are then photographed so they can be used as templates for other copies of the board.
The next step involves etching the copper. This can be done with either an additive or a subtractive process. Additive methods start with a bare laminate and then cover it with a photosensitive film, which is exposed to light through a mask. The areas that have been sensitized are then plated with copper, which can be any weight. The rest of the film is then stripped off and the bare original laminate is then etched.
Substrate materials can also have a big impact on the performance of a PCB. The dielectric constant of the material determines how fast the signal propagates through it. It can also be affected by frequency, with lower frequencies having a more significant effect. Dielectric breakdown voltage and tracking resistance are additional factors to consider.
The copper on a PCB can be specified directly or as ounces per square foot, which is more common. It can be thick or thin, with thinner layers being more common, but heavy copper can also be used if the board is going to carry high currents or help dissipate heat. A layer over three ounces is considered heavy copper.
The most recent developments in PCBs have seen the rise of surface mount technologies and the use of multi-layer boards. Surface mount allows more components to be fitted onto a single surface, so the board can become smaller and less prone to damage. Multi-layer boards can be assembled more quickly and allow for higher circuit densities, which are needed in many advanced electronics products. These include things like tablet computers, MP3 players and mobile phones. As robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things continue to evolve, it’s likely that PCBs will continue to be vital to their operation. In fact, they might even become more crucial as they become the hub of smarter, more powerful electronic devices.