What is a PCB?

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A PCB (printed circuit board) mechanically supports electronic parts that are electrically connected with the help of conductive pathways, traces etched from copper sheets which are laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. Much of the electronic industry’s assembly, PCB design and quality control needs are set by standards which are set by the IPC organization. The main generic standard for the design of a printed circuit is IPC-2221A, regardless of the material used to manufacture the board.

Circuit boards consist of an insulator which consists of one or numerous layers of material glued into a single entity. The additional layers serve as grounding to the board. The copper traces are either created by laying down individual lines mechanically or by coating the entire board in copper and stripping away the excess. By stripping away the excess, the needed printed circuits are left which connect electronic parts.

Many printed circuit board shops can help with the design process and offer high end features such as an auto router and trace optimizer which can drastically decrease the layout time. However, the best results for laying out it are achieved by at least some manual routing.

Custom PCB

These days, there are various kinds of circuit boards available in variety of materials and finishes, including FR4, FR4 High Temperature, Polyimide, GeTek, Rogers, Arlon, Nelco, Alumina, Ceramic, Bakelite, FR1, CEM1, and CEM5. The thickness of a circuit board varies based on the number of layers and can be as thin as 1.0mm (0.0394″). They can be single sided or multi-layered with cooper clad of 1-oz or higher. Although these are standard PCBs available in the market, yet you can get a customized it to suit your needs. The key is to find the right PCB manufacturer to make the boards to your specifications.

A custom PCB can be made in several ways. For instance, flex circuit boards are designed to be very flexible. This allows it to be placed in positions which are otherwise not possible or to be used in wire systems. A PCB can also be used in satellites, spaceships and other machines in outer space. Rigid copper cores are designed in a way that conduct heat away from the sensitive parts and protect them in the extreme temperatures they experience.

Some circuit boards are designed with an interior conductive layer to transfer power to various parts without using extra traces. These customized needs are circuit boards that are ordered by companies to fulfill specific requirements with limited space. In addition, PCBs are also used by students and electronic hobbyists for their custom projects and applications.

Advantages

* Are cost-effective and highly reliable.

* Economical for high-volume production.

* Have color codes for different connections and are therefore easy to install.

* Mention the rating of the device which helps in their maintenance.

Disadvantages

* More layout effort.

* Higher initial cost as compared to point-to-point constructed circuits or wire-wrapped.

* Etching of circuit boards generates chemicals which are dangerous for the environment.

* Cannot be updated once it gets printed.

PCB prototypes and low volume PCBs are available in the market which are inexpensive and meet the majority of needs. Free PCB software can easily be found online these days. It is simple to use by an amateur and efficient for a professional. PCB circuit boards are designed especially for each circuit and make construction very easy.

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