The contemporary printed circuit boards or PCBs are a result of electrical connection systems that were conceptualized during the 1850s. What are PCBs? They electrically connect and mechanically support electronic components by using pads, conductive tracks, and features etched from sheets (copper) that are laminated on to a substrate that is non- conductive.
PCBs may have one-copper layer (single-sided), two-copper layers (double-sided), or they may have inner and outer layers (multi-layer). The PCBs with multiple layers have a higher component density. Set on different layers, the conductors are linked with visa (plated through holes). More advanced PCBs may have components like active devices, resistors, and capacitors set in the substrate.
Originally, in the creation of earlier printed circuit boards, metal rods or strips were used to link large electrical components and mounted them on based made of wood. Over time, the metal strips were overshadowed by wires that were linked to screw terminals. Eventually, the wood bases were then discarded in favor of metal chassis.
However, more compact and smaller designs were required due to the rising operating needs of circuit board-using products. Charles Ducats, in 1925, applied for a patent for a way to create and electrical path on a surface (insulated) by printing through stencils having inks that are electrically-conducive. Ducats’ method led to the terms ‘printed circuit’ or ‘printed wiring.’
Paul Eisner, in 1943, patented a way of etching the circuits (conductive pattern) on to a copper foil layer bonded to a non-conductive and glass-reinforced base. It was only during the 1950s that Eisner’s technique became widely used. During this time, the transistor was introduced to the public for commercial usage. Up to that time, the size of components like vacuum tubes were large that the conventional wiring and mounting methods were all that were required. However, when transistors began to be widely used, the components became smaller to fit inside transistors. Manufacturers then shifted to printed circuit boards to reduce the electronic package’s overall size.
In 1961, the United States company Heseltine patented through-hole technology and its purpose in PCBs (multi-layer). During the 1970s, integrated circuit chips were first used. Such components were rapidly integrated into PCB manufacturing and design techniques.
With vast leaps in technological developments, even the manufacture of PCBs can be a do-it- yourself effort. There are also numerous companies that offer services by manufacturing printed circuit boards. Each company has their own unique methods in making PCBs.
While such companies can help you design your PCBs, they also encourage you to design your own PCBs by using computer-aided design (CAD) software. After you have designed your PCB, the manufacturer, through another computer program, can help you analyze your PCB design. They can help you to identify potential problems and help in fixing them before the PCBs are manufactured.
Even in the manufacturing process, you may be faced with budget constraints. Thus, companies offer packages in making PCBs. There are more affordable packages that entail the manufacture of two-layered printed circuit boards. There are intermediate packages of making multi-layered PCBs. There are also packages that call for the manufacture of up to 15,000 multi-layer PCBs that can be ready in 5 weeks or less.
As they say, it is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent execution. That also applies to PCBs. The most important aspect of the PCB-manufacturing process is the design. Thus, there are vendors that offer software that helps in the design of PCBs. By using such software, you can confidently and intuitively design your PCBs.
PCBs will not go away in the near future as their uses in technology are quite momentous. PCBs are found in almost every electronic device and PCBs are instrumental in how such electronic devices function.