What A Newbie Needs To Know About Printed Circuit Boards

Electronics are all around us. Smartphones, laptops, electric stovetops, and the list goes on. They may differ in function. However, all but the simplest electronic products have a common denominator – the PCB.

The PCB is fundamental to just about every gadget you lay your eyes on. Yet most consumers hardly know what it is. If this holds true for you, this post will introduce you to this vital component of electronics.

What’s A PCB Anyway?

PCB stands for “printed circuit board,” which may also be called a wiring board or a wiring card. A PCB has lines and pads, linking different points, connectors, and other components to each other. The board is like a superhighway, facilitating the transfer of signals and power between devices.

It uses solder to bridge the gap between connections on the surface and electrical components. And since solder is metal, the material doubles as a mechanical adhesive.

Electronics Before The PCB

Before the PCB, building circuits was a grueling process. Points have to be wired manually, which is expensive and prone to human error. Moreover, failures at wire junctions and short circuits were the norm, especially when the wire insulation ages and cracks.

Fortunately, man has a penchant for innovation.

The once massive and clunky electronic components experienced a size reduction, thanks to silicon and integrated circuits. This improvement brought electronics to the attention of the average consumer, and manufacturers had to look for a better and lighter solution. The onus to cater to a bigger market eventually gave birth to the PCB.

PCB In Your Gadgets And Gizmos

To build your smartphone, desktop PC, or smart TV, the electronic components are placed by a machine onto a PCB with solder dabs. To fuse the components together, an industrial oven bakes the PCB, melting the solder and making the connections in the process.

For simple gadgets, a single-layer PCB is enough. But for complex electronics like GPUs, the PCB can have up to a dozen layers.

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