What Is PCB Boards2020-10-21
What Is PCB Boards
What is PCB boards? What are the types and usage? PCBs have been widely used in different types of industries. A PCB is available in different types and designs. Also, different types of materials are used to create a PCB board. In this article, we will discuss all the possible aspects related to a PCB board. You will be aware of the material, design, types, structure, and usage. Keep reading if you are interested to know more about the PCB board. First, we will know: What is PCB boards?
A PCB Board: What Exactly It Is?
You might have seen a traditional PCB board. It comes with a simple design. The layer can be single or fifty layers depending on the demand of the project. These boards are made with many electrical components through conductive circuits. Different types of materials are used to transfer electrical signals between and within the devices.
PCBs are not a recent addition. These boards were designed in the early twentieth century. However, the product has witnessed many improvements and advancements during this long journey. The advancement of the PCB technologies has enabled the end product to be used in both small and large electronics.
As stated earlier, a PCB can be a single or multi-layer board. The basic board is rigid and flat with conductive structures. The structure will develop a geometric pattern that will have rectangles, squares, and circles. The thin and long rectangles will work as the interconnection. There will be many different shapes in the structure to function as the connection point to transfer power and electricity to many components.
When the PCB comes with a single layer, the usage will be restricted. The circuits will not be enough to transfer the power efficiently, and that might create difficulties to achieve the required interconnections. However, if you consider multi-layer PCBs, you can expect better efficiency. More importantly, the design will be compact and easy to manage. You can consider buying a PCB with a minimum of four layers to maximize the benefits. A four layers PCB will have a top layer, two internal layers, and a bottom layer.
Materials Used in PCBs
You will find many different types of materials. However, some primary and common materials used in PCB manufacturing are copper, plastic substrates, fiberglass substrates, nomenclature ink, and solder mask. Let’s know more about these primary materials.
Plastic and Fiberglass Substrates
In PCB manufacturing, flexible and rigid materials are used as the base material depending on the design of the board. In the rigid PCB, mostly fiberglass or FR4 is used. However, in the rigid-flex layers and flexible circuits, high-temperature polyimide films are used. In the flexible circuits, plastic substrates such as liquid crystal polymer, polyethylene naphthalate, and polyimide, and polyester are used. The substrate is considered the most effective since it can create a non-conductive base. LCP laminates and polyimide materials are generally used for high-signal speed and high-reliability applications. For the single-layer circuitry and low-cost products, polyethylene napthalate and polyester are used.
Copper is considered the best conducting material due to the high electrical conductivity. All the above-mentioned laminates can come with copper with thin sheets. The copper foil will be laminated to either one side of the plastic or both sides depending on the project demand. The number of layers and thickness of the layer will vary depending on the PCB applications.
It is an epoxy material used to apply to the outer layers of the PCB. Also, this material is used for the rigid sections of the rigid-flex PCB. The material is designed with a specific purpose to insulate the circuits on the outer layers. It will protect the outer layer of the board from the environment oxidation. You will find different colors in the soldermask. The common colors are red, amber, black, but blue, green, and white.
After using the soldermasks, some additional information that includes marks, identifying data, and even the bar codes will be printed. The additional information is known as the nomenclature ink. All the information will be printed onto the above-mentioned soldermasks.
Like different types of materials, many unique designs are used for PCB boards. Manufacturers take many things into account to decide the design of the end product. You can have a look at the following to know which factors play the determining role to decide on the design of a PCB.
- Purpose of usage and application.
- The environment where the board will be used.
- Configuration and space requirements.
- Assembly and installations.
- The flexibility of the end material.
The design will impact many factors significantly. The design will decide the operation cost, lead times, product yield, production speed, and manufacturability.
Types of PCB
All the PCBs are designed to serve the same purpose. However, you can expect a wide range of configurations, designs, and types to meet the specific needs of a particular application. When it comes to the types, you can choose from multi-layered rigid, single-sided rigid, rigid-flex, single-layered, double-sided, multi-layered, aluminum-backed, and high-frequency. Here are the details of the primary types of PCB.
These types of PCBs use rigid fiberglass substrates to design inexpensive, inflexible, and practical products. These PCBs are easier to make and inexpensive as well. Also, these are not versatile and might not fit into small areas or unusual geometrics.
Flexible PCBs come with good folding and bending capabilities to become a great option for oddly shaped and confined spaces. These are versatile and can be used in smaller devices. Also, flexible PCBs feature good adaptability.
These types combine the best qualities of the above two. Unlike the flexible and rigid PCBs, rigid-flex PCBs will have all the interconnectivity within the board that makes the end product compact and lightweight. Rigid-flex PCBs are mostly appreciated for ultra-lightweight, durability, and reliability.
PCBs are considered a good option for many industries due to their advanced technologies. The lightweight and small designs make these boards a great choice for modern devices. A PCB has made its way to medical, aerospace, military, and many industrial and commercial industries.