The printed circuit board, or PCB as it is known for short, has become a particularly important piece of the manufacturing business puzzle over the last several years. In 2014, the revenue of PCB and electronic component manufacturing in the United States reached upwards of $44 billion.
The printed circuit board mechanically supports and connects electronically different components which use conductive tracks, pads, and other different features brought about from copper sheets onto a substrate that is non-conductive. Different components such as capacitors, resistors, or active devices are generally placed onto the PCB using a soldering method. More advanced printed circuit boards might contain components that are embedded into the substrate.
Prototype assembly of a printed circuit board can be single sided, meaning it has one copper layer, or double sided, which means it contains two copper layers. If there are conductors on different layers of a prototype assembly, they are usually connected with vias. These printed circuit boards that contain several layers are known as multi-layer PCBs and they allow for a much higher component density.
A minimal printed circuit board, which is simply known as a minimal PCB, has a single component and is used for easier prototype assembly. This PCB with a single component used for the easier type of prototyping production is called a breakout board. If a board has no embedded components in it, it is actually more accurately referred to as a printed wiring board or a PWB. Sometimes it is also known as an etched wiring board.
When it comes to design, initially printed circuit boards were designed manually. They were designed on a clear mylar sheet and usually were done so at two or even four times the actually size. PCB fabrication is to fabricate the board itself. Part of the PCB assembly services is to fabricate the circuit board. To fabricate the board, the finished photomask in the prototype assembly was reproduced onto a photoresist coating on blank copper-clad boards.
When it comes to the double-sided circuit boards, they connect the circuits on each side. They are able to do this by using one of two different methods. There is through-hole technology and surface mount technology.
There are also two other types of circuit assemblies that are related to the printed circuit board. There is the integrated circuit, which is sometimes called an IC or microchip, and a hybrid circuit, which looks a lot like the printed circuit board but contains some components that instead of being soldered onto the surface are electrochemically grown onto the surface of the substrate.