A printed circuit board is created to replace the bulky wires found inside most of our electronic devices and gadgets. It is made up of thin boards with insulating materials on top where the design will be etched. It is found in most electronic appliances and gadgets we have at home. When PCBs were created miniaturized versions of gadgets and appliances were created.
The PCBs are first introduced in 1943, when Dr. Paul Eisner of Austria first created a work model of a circuit board during the world war. It has however the brain child of Charles Ducats of America who filed a patent for printed wires in 1825.
What are the functions of a Printed Circuit board?
A PCB supports electronic components by physically supporting and electrically connecting such components together without the use of bulky wires. Computers, televisions, radio components as well as communication devices all contain PCBs inside of them. Even the smallest pagers and beepers contain PCBs. PCBs can serve as motherboard ( the large circuit boards that serve to connect the Central processing Unit (CPU), the Random Access Memory (RAM), the input and output devices as well as the USB ports) or daughterboard (or expansion boards) of computers and laptops.
What are the advantages of a Printed Circuit board?
A correctly laid out printed circuit board, can minimize electrical noises. These noises when not controlled can degrade the performance of an appliance. Aside from low noise, PCBs also ensure low radiation as well as low pickup of electromagnetic waves. A low electromagnetic wave prevents cross-talk. Cross talk occurs when the signal transmitted by one circuit creates an effect that is undesirable for another circuit.
Aside from low noise and electromagnetic wave, a printed circuit board makes repairs easy. One can easily diagnose what is wrong with a device by simply looking at the board and their labels. A correctly designed and well planned printed circuit board is properly labeled, making it convenient for both diagnostic and repair.
Circuit boards are also soldered on a PCB, making it unmovable. Even the strongest of shakes and movement will not cause any distraction or worst electronic short circuit inside any electronic component.
How is Printed Circuit Boards Made?
There are several ways to create PCBs. We have acid etching, ultraviolet etching, mechanical etching and LASER etching. Let us go through each of them below:
Acid etching requires the use of acid etchant or corrosive chemical to etch the layout in a copper plate. In acid etching the design is laid out on a copper plate using an acid resistant ink (black permanent ink marker or ink jet printer works best) and then whatever is not covered is removed and eaten away by the acid.
If acid etching requires the use of a mordant to engrave the design on a copper plate, ultraviolet etching uses ultraviolet rays to do the same function. The design is created and etched using a more expensive machine. The results however are finer, more complicated circuit layouts.
The use of a machine or a routing method is what separates mechanical etching from the first two etching methods. This is considered as the most expensive means to create PCBs, since it requires buying a specific machine to do the job. Mechanical etching can produce multiple PCBs in the shortest amount of time. It can also produce multiple, identical copies of the same design with no time to spare.
Lastly, LASER etching is the most commonly used industrial method in creating PCBs. Laser beams are used to etch the circuit design on the copper plate and no human intervention is needed to do the job.
On pcbnet, there are a lot of design software available online that can assist you in creating the schematic and Printed Cirucit Board design. You can also include text and other graphic designs in your layout if you want to.