How to use a PCB board is critical in understanding the working of most everyday electronics that we use because all electronic devices have a PCB as the core component.
This article will discuss the most common ways to use a PCB board. But before we delve into that, we’ll inform you what comprises a PCB. Let’s get right into it.
What Is A Printed Circuit Board Used For?
A PCB with electronic components.
In generic terms, a PCB represents any type of board we use to connect electronic components.
PCBs are present in all electronics and are made of copper sheets.
They feature lines that are typically the conductive connections between different points on the board.
However, some parts of the board (those with no lines) are also non-conductive.
In addition, PCBs contain electronic parts such as resistors and capacitors that control their functionalities.
Types of PCB Boards
There are different kinds of PCB boards; we’ll list them in detail below.
A Single sided PCB.
Most of our PCBs belong to this category and are renowned for their single conductive copper layer overlying a substrate.
Hence, all the parts, such as capacitors and resistors, are on one side while the other is bare.
Their single conductive surface setup means the intersection of the conducting paths is impossible.
These PCBs take up much space, making them common in low-density designs.
The boards have a conductive copper layer on either side. It means you can connect components on either end of the board via the two main PCB Assembly Processes.
These are either surface mount technology or through-hole technology.
Through-hole technology is a technique whereby you mount the lead components on pre-existing holes.
Next, we use solder to connect the parts to a pad on the board’s opposite side.
Surface mount technology entails mounting the components on the PCB’s surface.
They are more sophisticated than double-sided PCBs; they have more than two copper layers.
They sport a sandwich design whereby a PCB features numerous double-sided PCBs that are separated from each other by an insulating layer.
The bonding and lamination of these PCBs happen under extreme temperatures and pressure to ensure they form a stable board.
You can find them in complex circuit systems such as computers, military applications, and medical equipment.
It is an unfoldable PCB type primarily because it features a rigid substrate.
Like multilayer PCBs, they also have multiple layers comprising the following parts:
- Silkscreen layer
- Substrate layer
- Solder mask layer
- Copper layer
Rigid PCBs can be any of the above three types that cannot fold. It’s also impossible to modify a rigid PCB once manufactured.
A flex circuit board.
They are foldable PCBs that go by numerous names, such as:
- Versatile Printed circuits
- Flex circuits
- Flex circuit boards
Their main difference from other PCB parts is that they are flexible, which is imperative in curtailing complexity in circuit design.
Their main application is in LCD fabrication and medical applications.
The use of Flex PCBs in electronic equipment means there’s no need to have connectors.
A rigid-flex PCB.
It is a PCB that combines the features of rigid and flexible PCBs, whereby the flexible part is important in creating interconnections on rigid boards.
Flexibility is also essential in folding and twisting the PCBs to form the right shape of the electronic component they manufacture.
Also, since you don’t need connectors for electrical connectors with these PCBs, they are ideal for use in small form factor devices.
It is not a type of circuit board construction design. Rather, it is a general PCB design element featuring a circuit board capable of transmitting signals under extreme conditions (up to 1GHz).
Therefore, they need special materials to mold that include:
Of the three materials, Teflon makes the best high-frequency PCBs primarily because of its features such as:
- It has a significantly low dielectric loss
- Also, it has a relatively small dielectric constant
- Its water absorption rate is extremely low.
A circuit board with components.
Most of the common PCBs have fiberglass as the substrate. However, for aluminum-backed PCBs, the substrate is an aluminum or copper pad.
Such boards have an excellent heat dissipation rate and are also easy to recycle owing to the recyclability of aluminum.
The material is also far more durable than other substrates like fiberglass, ensuring they can withstand the drop test.
What Are Common Uses for PCBs?
There are extensive applications of PCBs, but we’ll look at the ten most common uses.
Electronics use in the medical field.
PCBS are at the basis of the function of most integrated circuits of medical equipment.
Their application in this industry is vast, from consultation, monitoring, and treatment devices.
Other common areas in the medical field you’ll find PCBs include medical imaging systems, infusion pumps, and internal devices such as pacemakers.
Notably, the PCBs used in this industry must be highly reliable because they are used in delicate life-and-death scenarios.
Also, the devices in the industry must meet high sanitation levels.
Lastly, they are high-density interconnects (HDI) thanks to the small spaces people work in the medical field.
An Aluminum backed PCB with LEDs.
Light-emitting diode applications also use PCBs, whose components are vital in transferring the heat away from the bulb.
Hence, the PCB type you’ll most encounter in these devices is Aluminum backed, thanks to this material’s excellent heat dissipation properties.
Among the LED lighting applications whereby you’ll find PCBs include automotive displays, medical lighting, and residential lighting.
PCBs are at the heart of most common consumer electronics, and as the need for more small devices emerges, circuit board manufacturers opt for higher-volume connections.
The reliability of the PCBs is also a critical issue in the industry as primarily an issue in electronics manufacturing.
Manufacturers want to create long-lasting electronics, critical to harnessing the company’s reputation.
Hence, most modern electronics have high-quality PCBs, which are set to continue improving.
An automation robot in the industry.
Industrialists use equipment with actual circuit boards in numerous industrial applications.
Their use includes power equipment for power supply monitoring.
Other applications include measuring equipment and various manufacturing equipment.
The industrial setting is rough. Hence, PCB for industrial use must withstand high temperatures, vibrating equipment, and rough handling.
Therefore, they must be highly durable and capable of operating optimally at high thermal conditions.
This explains why these PCBs are made from through-hole technology to enhance durability.
Earlier, PCBs in automobiles were for basic functionalities such as headlight switches and windshield wipers.
But they are increasingly more popular than before, whereby today, cars feature parts such as sensors, navigation, and control systems that use PCBs.
In the future, we’re set to have more autopilot systems in vehicles, which will see the increasing use of PCBs.
Cockpit pilot Flight Deck display.
Like the autopilot systems in autonomous vehicles, PCBs are at the core of aerospace components’ functionalities.
However, in aerospace applications, PCBs must be highly durable and capable of operating optimally under harsh situations that planes operate.
They must also be highly reliable, as PCB failure in aerospace components can be fatal.
Their plane applications include navigation, monitoring, power supplies, and imagery equipment.
Gone are when sea voyaging required simple mechanical components such as a map and compass.
LEDs have been increasingly deployed in improving sea navigation, communication, and control systems.
Again, the PCB in this application must be high performing and durable to withstand harsh sea conditions.
Safety and Security Equipment
An electronic door lock.
Safetyware such as sensor cameras, smoke detectors, and electronic door locks also feature PCBs.
The PCBs used in these applications are supposed to be highly reliable primarily because their failure can significantly affect security.
Also, for the security equipment outside, such as the sensor cameras, the PCBs must be high quality and capable of withstanding weather conditions.
We can expect more PCB use to create security equipment in the future.
In addition, there will be more that connects to the internet and features Smart features.
Your mobile phone is an example of a telecommunication device with PCBs at its functionalities’ core.
All telecommunication equipment is electronic, apart from those holding parts such as poles and electronic covers.
The type of PCB used in electronics work depends on its application and use conditions.
Military and Defense Applications
A military watch.
Lastly, we need high-performance PCBs for a range of military equipment. Here, PCB reliability is critical, given the sensitivity of the equipment used and the grave consequences of their failure.
High-temperature laminates, conductive copper, and aluminum are some of the materials that make the military PCB as they are dependable and highly durable.
Printed circuit boards are the driving engine behind all electronic components. But there are different types of PCBs, each suited to a specific application.
Also, as captured above, PCBs find use in almost all industries, and their application will only improve as we increasingly computerize everything.