Understanding the Printed Circuit Board: Everything you need to know about PCBs

What is a Printed Circuit Board?

A printed circuit board connects components using conductive tracts. It also supports features that are etched from copper sheets and framed into a non-conductive substrate. PCB’s come in various forms, they can be single sided, multi-layered, or double-sided. Conductors on different layers are connected with plated-through holes, these holes are commonly known as “vias”. Some of the advance PCBs may contain components like capacitors, resistors, or embedded in the substrate.

Through-Hole Technology.

The first manufactured PCB’s used a through-hole technology. They were able to do this through mounting electronic components by leads inserted through holes on one side of the board and soldered onto copper traces at the back. Boards may be single-sided, with an unplaited component side with components soldered on both sides, they also have more compact double-sided boards

The installation of through-hole parts with two axial leads is sometimes installed by bending the leads in 90 degrees in the same direction, inserting the part in the board, soldering the leads, and trimming off the ends. Leads may also be soldered through a manual process or by a wave soldering machine. This through-hole PCB technology almost completely changed the earlier electronics assembly techniques such as point-to-point construction. From the second generation of computers in the 50s down to the surface-mount technology in the late 80s, every aspect of a typical PCB was a through-hole component.

Surface- Mount Technology

This type of PCB technology emerged in the 1960s and had gained momentum in the early 80s. It became widely used by the mid-1990s and since then it became one of the most common PCBs in the market. The components of this type were mechanically redesigned to have small metal tabs or end caps that could be sold directly onto the circuit boards surface, rather than using wire leads to pass through holes. Nowadays, components of this type became much smaller and its placement on both sides of the board became more common than with through-hole mounting. This allows much smaller PCB assemblies with much higher circuit densities https://www.hemeixinpcb.com/RigidFlexPCB/RigidFlexPCB.html.

Circuit Properties of the PCB

Each trace consists of a narrow part of the copper foil that has a flat surface that remains after etching. The resistance, determined by width and thickness, of the traces must be sufficiently lower so that the current the conductor will continue to carry. Also, power and ground traces may need to be broader than signal traces. In a multi-layer board, one entire layer may be mostly solid copper to act as a ground plane for power return and shielding. Microwave circuits, on the other hand, have transmission lines that can be laid out in the form of stripline and microstrip with supervised dimensions to ensure a consistent impedance.

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