A printed circuit board
or PCB is a think board used to connect electrical components using copper tracks instead of wires. Holes drilled in the board are used to fix the electrical components in position. They are then soldered to secure them in position and the copper tracks link them together forming a circuit. The board and the components together are known as a PCB Assembly. (or Printed Circuit Board Assembly)
These days once the design process has been carried out using computer aided design (CAD) and a plan is formed the manufacture of PCBs can be fast as it is automated through machinery and computer technology. The next part is the testing and quality control element of the process.
While many inventors had versions of PCBs it was an Austrian engineer called Paul Eisler who is credited with creating the printed circuit in 1936. Fast forward to the 1980's and boards became much smaller and had more functionality and the production costs came down significantly due to the ability to mass produce the boards and components.
The fact that the circuit is on a fixed board offers uniformity to the design and therefore finding and identifying problematic components is much easier. This means that they are much quicker to fix and maintain. This also means the chances of making a mistake in rewiring is much lower as the electronics are in a set place.
Uses of Printed Circuit Boards
There are PCBs literally in most of the electronic things we see and use every day. They are largely responsible for the fact that many of the devices we use daily are smaller yet have more technology within them.
Televisions and Radios
You will also find them in your car or motor bike or on your bike if you have lights. If you are off on holiday any time soon, you will also find them all over the place in the plane! Other uses include military, medical and industrial components. So you see they are used everywhere and you come into contact with devices that use them in everything you do.
Types of PCB
There are a number of different types of printed circuit board, namely double sided, single sides and multilayer. Single sided boards are used where the costs are to be kept low and the design is simple. Double sided are used for more complex circuits and are the basis for most PCBs manufactured. Multi layer are for highly complex situations and are used to lower the weight and volume of devices.
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