The modern world is defined by its use of electronics.
Used in everything from toys to spacecrafts, the various technologies used find themselves applicable in just about all aspects of our lives.
Of the many things that comprise the world of modern technology, one major component is that of printed circuit boards or PCBs.
Invented decades ago to replace redundant and often impractical wires, they have become an industry standard of sorts, and one technological wonder constantly being improved.
When it comes to the subject of improvements, it can be said that printed circuit boards are far from perfect. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement, in just about every aspect of it.
With regard to the improvement, there are already several things that can be applied on, when it comes to industry practices. There are several practices in the world of PCBs, which when used should allow for greater efficiency and productivity.
In simple words, there are several technical improvements that can be done for printed circuit boards.
Ten such major technical improvements are listed out in the points below.
1.) PCB Board Cameras
This is one of the more innovative additions that have been made to PCBs.
As the name would suggest, the boards come equipped with cameras, which are mounted right onto the boards. The cameras in turn, are equipped with lens, image sensors and aperture, for the purpose of capturing digital media, whether pictures or videos.
The size of the cameras is especially interesting, given that they are about as big as a quarter, and offer the full functionality of standard cameras. Depending on the quality of the camera, it can vary even further as well.
The technology has proven to be very effective for a range of functions, given that their small size allows for them to be used for a wide range of applications.
2.) 3D Printing
3D printing technologies is one of the more interesting technological advancements that have taken place, in recent times.
It essentially allows for one to 'print' 3D models of anything and everything, without the need for complex manufacturing processes.
The advancement, although in its nascent stages, has been widely adopted across the world in applications ranging from art and design to medical tech.
And these advancements certainly holds true even in the case of PCBs as well. Given that a good part of the manufacturing processes are eliminated in the case of 3D printing, it has made the production of these boards a lot easier. From the production of the base board, to the many components used on it, almost all aspects of PCB manufacturing have the potential to be positively benefited.
3.) High-Speed Capabilities
If there is one trend that is visible in the world of technology, it is the steady increase of speed.
There has been a steady increase in the processing capabilities of technology today, reaching speeds that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Also, given that research and development are still underway, it is very likely that the trend will increase well into the near future.
This is a trend that very much applies to PCBs as well. When it comes to speed, the developments have certainly affected it as much as everything else. Today, you have PCBs that are incredibly fast, due to changes in its design. These high-speed PCBs allow for rapid processing of information, making them applicable for even the most demanding of applications.
PCB technology today often makes use of what are called autorouters. Used for routing electronic functions across the board, they are most beneficial when it comes to automation.
As advantageous as they are, they do come with one major drawback, which is that they are rather difficult to work with. As a result of this, many are discouraged from working with them, given that the advantages are often balanced out by the disadvantages.
Due to this, another alternative is increasingly being sought after, called autoplacers, which allow for the integration of mechanical and electrical CAD systems, making the entire manufacturing process simpler. In simple words, they allow for the calculation of the shortest and most ideal route of a circuit, and go with that, allowing for higher efficiency in the PCB.
Although it hasn't become an industry standard, it can be said that there is potential for this to become widely adopted in the near future.
5.) Healthcare Applications
There are many healthcare applications that PCBs are increasingly being used for.
To a large extent, PCBs have been historically restricted in use to technologies used outside a patient. Now however, they have started to be used elsewhere as well.
For example, the emergence of advanced PCBs have allowed for the creation of small cameras that can be swallowed by a patient, so that medical professionals can get a better look at their insides and understand what’s happening.
A term used to define the process of making something smaller, they have become an important aspect of modern industries.
From the reduction in size of circuits to whole gadgets, this is a trend that is seen everywhere, when it comes to technology.
And this certainly holds true for PCBs as well. PCB circuitry is getting increasingly smaller in scale, and is a trend that is expected to continue into the future.
7.) High Density
This is actually an advantage and result of miniaturization, where the reduction in size allows for greater number of components to be integrated into a smaller area.
In the case of PCBs, the process of miniaturization has allowed for the creation of high-density boards, which allow for a greater degree of efficiency and functionality than previously thought.
Wearable electronics, or at least the idea of it, has been around for a very long time.
This has however, never really materialized due to technological constraints. Given that it was very difficult to create circuits on a flexible surface such as cloth, the idea remained an idea for quite a while.
The emergence of PCBs that are flexible, along with newer materials and other advancements, have allowed for the creation of wearable electronics, whether it be clothing, accessories or something else.
9.) Newer Materials
An emerging trend in the manufacture of PCBs has been, not in the technology itself, but the materials used in the technology.
The rise of modern industry has led to the emergence of newer materials, which are increasingly being used for PCB applications. They have proven to be promising, especially given that they are more efficient and greener.
For example, the industry standard of using copper for the circuits, may be replaced in the future with materials such as liquid crystal polymers.
10.) Green Practices
As with all industries, there is always the potential for ecological impact, which needs to be addressed.
From the design stages and manufacturing, to end use and recycling, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed, when it comes to PCBs. Issues here include, among others, energy efficiency, hazardous materials being used, E-waste management, etc.
As time goes by and greater number of people starts to make use of this technology, this will start to become a major issue for the industry to deal with.
In all, the ten technical improvements listed above, are some of the most important that come to mind, when talking about the subject.
There are indeed many more such differences as well, in addition to these.
Feel free to look up on them, if you want to know more about it.