In our world, we are now almost surrounded by technology, and it aids us in our everyday lives. Almost anyone that you’ll meet is sure to have used a computer, one way or another. Almost anyone that you’ll see is also sure to own a cellular phone, whether it be the latest model out there, or one of the oldest. These electronic devices all work as with all other devices, with circuits and microchips in them, all programmed to function the way they are supposed to work. You’d then sometimes wonder how these circuits and microchips connected together are. That is when we will be able to discuss the printed circuit board.
A printed circuit board is a board made out of a non-conductive material, etched with a conductive metal, usually copper, in between the sheets of material, and then the components are all attached through them. The metal is usually patterned to follow a certain circuit to connect one component of the board to another, allowing the whole unit to work.
The pattern being followed on a printed circuit board can be likened to how a house is set up with electric cables. These cables would then run through the walls of the house, to either give power to electrical outlets or for such parts as electrical sockets for light bulbs. But unlike the walls of a house where we can hide the cables in between, it would be impractical for a manufacturer to attach cables to each leg of a component of an electrical circuit. It will mess up the device, will give a high risk of damage to the device, and if it was built, it will not be as compact as our modern devices.
The printed circuit board came about back in the 1850’s. Electrical components back then would be mounted onto wooden boards and the metal rods would be placed underneath the boards. These were then eventually replaced with wires, which would be screwed to the components via screw terminals, and the boards were made out of metal. The use of a printed circuit board also allowed a more compact connection between electrical components, and also allowed the possibility of creating a more complex design.
In 1943, Paul Eisler from the United Kingdom was able to develop and patent of etching a circuit pattern on a layer of copper foil that is bonded to a non-conductive base, which is usually made of glass. This was then widely used after the introduction of transistors, which made electronic components and devices smaller and more compact.
During the development of the board, two methods of connecting components were developed; the Through-Hole Technology and the Surface-Mount Technology.
Through-Mount Technology would usually have a lead part of it that will be inserted into a certain section of a circuit board, and then it will be soldered in place on the other side of it. The components that are inserted in this method are usually large enough to be soldered by hand, or in some case, a machine will be available to automatically do that.
Surface-Mount Technology would involve “stamping,” or placing a component directly onto one side of the board. Modern circuit boards use this method, especially since most components are now smaller in size than what was produced before.
Designing the circuits for a PCB is no easy task. A certain size would be required, and there will also be a required number of components that need to fit in it. Designers need to make sure the circuits won’t hit each other, and that the components will fit properly within the given amount of space. Such a design greatly helps in developing new technology, and it also allows the possibility of the most compact of all devices that are being made nowadays.