What is PCB Electronics and When is it Used


What is PCB Electronics and when is it Used?

The methods to make printed circuit boards (PCBs) began at the start of the 20th century. Today, PCBs are very common in the world of electronics. Many of our everyday devices contain PCBs.

What is a PCB?

The most basic description of a PCB would be a plastic board with glass used to reinforce it. Interconnecting copper lines and pads attach to this board and these enable the flow of electrical charge to give power to the board’s various components. These copper traces take the place of traditional wiring and allow electricity to flow where it needs to.

PCB design

The simplest PCBs are single-sided with just one copper layer. Although, they can also be double sided. Complexity increases as more layers are added, each with its individual pathways. Multi-layered PCBs are needed for more complex electronics because copper connections are unable to cross without mutual interference. The design of single-sided PCBs keeps one side for the components and the other for the copper trace.

The copper layer is covered with a solder mask, which gives PCBs their characteristic green colour. This acts as insulation from potentially interfering metal parts. There’s also a silkscreen on top of the solder mask. This usually contains a letter or number imprint so the PCB is easier to incorporate into a design.

PCB components

The PCB’s copper traces can be thought of in terms of its bare bones or basic structure. Then, there’s the components, each with its own function. These define the circuit and make it unique to suit each intended use. PCBs are designed for various devices and electronic designs. Therefore, each uses different components to create different circuits. Typical PCB components can include batteries, colour-coded resistors to regulate electrical current and LEDs that light up when a current passes through them, allowing the flow of current in only one direction. There are also transistors, capacitators, and inductors, which all regulate charge. Finally, diodes and switches are also used to regulate the flow of current.

Putting a PCB together

The various components fit onto PCBs in different ways, depending on the PCB design. The most popular component attachment methods are surface mounting or through-hole attachments. An engineer will use numbers on the silkscreen and follow a schematic pattern, attaching the components using a soldering device. This is an intricate process and needs to be followed very carefully to avoid short circuits. Should these occur, the consequences can potentially be catastrophic, sometimes resulting in minor explosions or even fires. However, when components are correctly fitted, the PCB is an indispensable asset for a device, tool, or machine.

Why the need for PCBs?

PCBs can become highly complicated with many layers, forming a part of very advanced electronics. Hallmark Electronics makes all kinds of PCBs, no matter how intricate or complex. Before PCBs became widespread, electric connections were wired using point-to-point connections. Unfortunately, these deteriorated with age, leading to frequent equipment failures. Also, with the rise of electrical products, the need to decrease their size and lower the cost gave rise to the invention of the PCB.

The way of the future

PCBs mean that electronic circuits can be more compact, reliable and stored on dedicated boards. Today, most home electrical appliances and industrial machines use PCBs. For example, computers, televisions, printers, microwave ovens or industrial lathes. A computer motherboard is a PCB that acts as the brains of a computer. Other computer-based PCBs can be found in the RAM (random access memory), modems and power supplies. Since computers and electronics are the way of the future, at Hallmark Electronics, we fully understand why PCB manufacture is such an indispensable part of modern technology. Hence, this is our specialism.

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