The world around us is defined by technology.
Touching every aspect of our lives, modern society is defined by the advancements and innovations made over the years.
One such development that has taken place over the years is that of printed circuits.
Created as a sturdy and stable alternative to wires, printed circuits have become an industry standard across the world.
It was found that these printed circuits were far more durable and efficient, in comparison to the wires that were being used before. Also, the rise of multi-layer circuit boards allowed for the technology to reach a level of efficiency and productivity that couldn?t be achieved until then.
As a result of this, they are now found everywhere, ranging from handheld gadgets to high tech applications.
When it comes to printed circuits, it can be said that there are two main types, namely Printed Circuit Board Assemblies or PCBAs, more commonly called Printed Circuit Assemblies or PCBAs and Printed Circuit Boards or PCBs.
Although they both run on the same principles, there are a few differences that distinguish one from the other.
Some of the major differences are listed out in the points below.
1.) Basic Design
One of the most important differences between the two is in the basic design.
Printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are the main boards, comprising of the substrate and the copper circuits that are printed on them. It doesn?t have any of the other components on it, such as the capacitors, transistors, etc.
Printed circuit assemblies or PCBAs on the other hand, are those PCBs which have the various elements mentioned above, like capacitors, etc. It can be thought of as the PCBs with an assortment of components.
In simple words, a Printed Circuit Board is the board itself, while Printed Circuit Assembly is the board, along with all the other elements that are installed on it.
There is a difference in the way the two terms are used.
In the tech industry, PCBAs and PCBs are very distinct from each other, with their own abilities and features.
At the same time however, it doesn?t hold true in everyday language. To a layman, the two are the same, with the term Printed Circuit Board being used to broadly refer to both PCBAs as well as PCBs.
In other words, the average person doesn?t understand the difference between the two, and often uses the term printed circuit Board in a generalized sense, as opposed to the way it is used in the industry.
The term ?construction? here refers to the way in which PCBAs and PCBs are manufactured.
In the case of PCBs, the main aspect of construction is that of ?etching?, where a circuit pathway is ?etched? on a copper surface, which in turn sits on a non-conducting board made from materials like fiberglass.
In addition to this, there are certain other variations that can also exist, depending on the nature of the design. In the case of double or multi-layered PCBs, the board may require drilling, the use of conductive tracks, pads, etc.
PCBAs on the other hand, are made by soldering the various components onto the boards, although other strategies may also be utilized.
In addition to this, PCBAs are also heat treated as well, to ensure that a suitable mechanical link is established between the components and the PCB.
Both PCBAs and PCBs are used for end-use applications. At the same time however, the degree of scope varies broadly between the two.
Printed Circuit Boards are used in applications where all that is required is a simple circuit to transfer electricity or data, and nothing more. Given that it is an efficient alternative to wires, it is preferred over the latter.
Printed Circuit Assemblies on the other hand, are used in cases where there is a demand for applications beyond just the transfer of data or electricity. A good example of this is that of computer motherboards, which is a printed circuit board complete with a vast number of components installed on it.
Quite often, both PCBAs and PCBs are used together in the case of practical applications, as opposed to them being used individually.
5.) Manufacturing Time
It is usually faster to manufacture Printed Circuit Boards, in comparison to Printed Circuit Assemblies.
This is because there is far less work involved in creating the circuits, in comparison to the installation of the various components on the board.
Due to these factors, Printed Circuit Boards can be manufactured a lot faster in comparison to Printed Circuit Assemblies.
It should be noted that some exceptions exist here. The time variations will certainly be influenced by the kind of printed board being considered, i.e. whether it is a single-layered, double-layered or multi-layered one.
6.) Cost Factor
In general, PCBs are cheaper in comparison to PCBAs.
This is due to the fact that PCBs are just the bare board, without any of the components, the manufacture of PCBs are relatively easy, making it generally low when it comes to the cost factor.
PCBAs on the other hand, tend to be expensive, due to the fact that they are far more complex. In other words, there is a lot of effort that goes into the making of PCBAs, ranging from the initial installation of the assemblies to the final checks, making them relatively more expensive.
It should be noted that this cost variation holds true, as long as the base board is the same in both the cases. For example, the price of a base multi-layer PCB will always be lower than that of a multi-layer PCBA. At the same time however, a multi-layer PCB may be more expensive in comparison to a single-layer PCBA.
In other words, the design of the base board will play a major role in determining the variations in the final cost.
As a whole, these are some of the major differences that exist, between PCBAs and PCBs.
In addition to this, it should also be added that there are many more as well, albeit which are of a lesser significance.