From Humble Beginnings, the PCB Has Become Essential to Live as We Know it

Prototype pcb manufacturing

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are used in a wide array of products around the planet. These are used in almost all electronic devices on the planet. The global market for them hovered at about $60 billion in 2012, which was about 1.7% more than in 2011. The PCB is the mechanical support for many electronic components. It also provides the connectivity needed for many kinds of devices. In fact, becaues theese are used in such a vast number of differing products that serve a host of different needs, there is no one standard PCB. Even the PCB fabrication process is different for each kind of device that will rely on a PCB.

Given the complexity of the different devices that rely on prototype circuit boards, it might not be intuitive to know that PCBs have been around since the 1850s. Back then, metal strips or rods were attached to wooden bases and used to connect electric components. Wired eventually replaced the rods and strips and the metal chassis were used in lieu of the wooden bases. As the need for PCBs grew, their deisgn became smaller and more copact. Charles Ducas applied for a patent in 1925 for his method, which used stencils to apply electrically charged ink to an insulated surface. Ths is is the reason PCBs are called “printed circuit boards.”

The PCB design was enhanced further by Paul Eisler. He took the conductive patterns and etched them onto a nonconductive surface (reinforced glass). This new techique for PBC fabrication did not start to be used on a widespread level until the 1950s when commercial use of transistors neccessiatateed using smaller cicuit boards.The real driving force behind the iwdespread use of PCBs and the increase in PBC fabrication was the United States Army, who developed the PCB assembly process during the 1950s.

The next breakthough in PCB assemnly took place in the 1961. The American company Hazeltyne began using through hole technology to make multilayered PCBc. It was not until the 1970s when integrated circuit chips were integrated into PCB fabrication techniques.

Today, there are three kinds of PCBs being used. They can be one sided, two sided or multi layered. There is no one standard for PCB fabriation and each circuit board is designed to suit the exact kind of devide and fit the exact space where it wil be placed. Accordingly, there are three ways these can be printed. They includeandnbsp;silk screen printing, liquid photo imaging, and ink jet printing. So yes, you can print out a PCB with your printer at home.

Interesting PCB Facts:

  • Most PCBs are green. This is because the glass epoxy that is used in the PCB fabrication process is green. They can be made in any color you like though.
  • PCBs can be damaged by static electricity. Static electricty can completely destroy many PCBs so it is really important to use andnbsp;anti-static bags to ship and move them.
  • Computerized topography (CT) can be used to create three dimentional models of PCBs.
  • In order to withstand exterme temoeratures or conditions, the PCB fabrication process can include applying a sealant at the last step. The one main draw back to doing this is that it makes it nearly impossible to repair the PCB once the protective coating has been applied.

It is often said that great things come in small packages. That is definitely the case with printed circuit boards. As our technology becomes smaller and more advances, the PCBs we use for just about everything shrink even further. Advancements to the way these are made are being worked on all of the time. Newer prototype PCB assembly will inclide more three dimesntional apsects and different layering techniques to allow PCBs to do more and more with less and less space.

Given how attached most of us are to our various technologies and toys, it is a little interesting how little time we spend thinking about the parts of these items that make them possible. They may seem small and not important but with our PCBs, we would have none of the fun gadgets that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.