When it comes to printed circuit boards, there is a lot that one can say.
Simple as they seem, they are by far one of the most ingenious and advanced pieces of scientific advancements of the present times.
Created largely as an alternative to do away with bulky wire configurations, one can find printed circuit boards in a wide range of applications, from the simple to the complex.
One could in fact say that the development of printed circuit boards played a major role in the advancement of modern electronics, among other things.
Coming to the actual functioning of these boards, it is not often clear as to their function.
While the average engineer may have an idea of their function, the common man is often in the dark as to their design and overall structure.
The details on the exact design of printed circuit boards are explained in the points given below.
1. The Basic Design Never Changed
If there is one thing that is to be kept in mind, this would be it.
As ?advanced? as the boards are, the basic design of the circuits never really changed, as some may think. On the contrary, what happened was that the way the circuit boards worked was just made ?more efficient?.
In other words, the circuits will still carry electricity and data the same way that they would in the case of wires, albeit in a manner that was more efficient and that?s it.
2.) The Various Levels of a Printed Circuit Board
The average circuit board, without exception, is made up of several different layers.
This is an industry standard, without any exceptions to a large extent. It is an industry-wide standard practice, and which is something that can be observed in almost any printed circuit board that one comes across.
To begin with, there is the main board, which acts as a foundation on which the entire circuit architecture is built. The board is typically made out of epoxy resins. This forms the primary layer of the printed circuit boards.
The resin boards in turn, have the circuits placed on their surface, using one of two ways; etching and plating. In the case of ?etching?, a metal circuit is ?etched? from a metal foil bonded on the surface of the board. In case the same is ?plated?, a thin layer of metal is deposited on the board along a path to create the necessary circuit. This makes the second layer of the printed circuit board.
The third layer comprises of the protective layers that are used to ensure that the board lasts for a long enough period of time. These include everything from the deposition of metals or alloys, to the application of waterproofing materials. This forms the final layer of the printed circuit board design
In addition to the above, there may also be the addition of components such as diodes, resistors, integrated circuits and so on, as per the requirements and needs.
4.) The Overall Design
This is something that has to do more with the overall design of the device or electronic than the actual printed circuit board.
A printed circuit board is really just another component in a much larger device, such as a household electronic or Smartphone. This means that the design of the printed circuit board, is something that must seamlessly fit into the larger design of the gadget that it was designed for.
This factor puts certain restrictions on the size of the circuit, and the kind of designs that can be used for the purpose. For example, larger electronics allow for the use of larger printed circuit boards than normal. But in case of small handheld electronics, there is a limit to the amount of space available, which necessitates the need for ?multi-layered? boards, which has multiple layers of circuits integrated into a single chip.
Likewise, there are plenty of other such constraints that exist on the final design of the printed circuit board as well, which determine how it is to be designed.
3.) The Manufacturing Plant
If there is one thing very unique about the way printed circuit boards are manufactured, it would be their environment.
As much as their architecture may be rather easy and simple to understand, the way to go about doing it is not really the case. The fact is that the manufacture of these printed circuit boards requires a very high amount of manufacturing efficiency and a very clean environment, which calls for high facility standards.
Today, printed circuit boards are typically manufactured in what are called ?clean rooms?. They are called ?clean rooms? because they are, as the name would suggest, exceptionally clean, in terms of having little to no dust as well as microbes.
This high degree of cleanliness and sterility is required, as even the smallest impurity can lead to imperfections in the final design of the circuits.
Also to add here is that in addition to the facility, there are also similar requirements on part of the workers at the plant. People are often required to wear special and protective clothing, as well as follow high standards for sanitation and cleanliness, in order to work at the plant. In addition to this, it is to be added that the facilities where these chips are manufactured, usually have access controlled production areas, which carefully regulated and monitor who is allowed in and out of the place.
It is interesting to note that these are often the same standards that are also used in the manufacture of silicon chips, and other related technologies, such as that of microprocessors used in smart phones and desktops.
In all, the construction of printed circuit boards has undergone a dramatic change from their early days.
From the materials used to the manufacturing processes, all of them have witnessed a vast degree of transformation.
The details of the basic design, as laid out above, are but the standard practiced today in a vast majority of printed circuit board companies around the world. The exact details may certainly vary, depending on the company one is referring to, and the manufacturing process being deployed for the same.