All about Printed Circuit Boards: Brief History, Structure and Usage

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A printed circuit board or PCB is used to connect electric components by way of electricity. It uses signal traces, tracks or conductive pathways. These are etched from copper sheets laminated into a substrate that is non conductive. A printed circuit board with several electronic components is called a printed circuit board assembly. You will find these printed circuit boards in almost every simple electronic device that is produced commercially.

It was in the twentieth century when the printed circuit board was born. Albert Hanson, a German inventor, first described flat foil conductors which are laminated to an insulating board in 1903. In 1904, an experiment was performed by Thomas Edison on the chemical methods of plating conductors on linen paper. Arthur Berry and Max Schoop patented the print and etch technique in Britain and America respectively in 1913. In 1927 a patent for the process of electroplating circuit patterns was acquired by Charles Durcase.

For a functional printed circuit board assembly, once all printed circuit board processes are done, the electronic components should all be attached. Two building processes can be done in order to form the printed circuit board assembly. One is the surface mount build where the components are positioned on pads on the surface of the printed circuit board. The other build is the through hole build in which the leads of the component are inserted in holes. In both types, the leads are fixed electrically and mechanically via soldering.

Soldering methods vary when used to connect components of printed circuit boards for an assembly to be possible. In case of high volume productions, machine placements are used for bulk wave soldering. However, for minute parts, highly-skilled technicians solder them by hand under a microscope. Their tools include a fine tipped soldering iron, tweezers and a microscope. Nonetheless, there are parts which are impossible to solder by hand.

Printed circuit boards in a printed circuit board assembly are coated with a special substance. This is applied after the components are soldered via spraying or dripping. This coating prevents condensation and corrosion. In case the printed circuit board condenses or corrodes, shorting or leaking of current might occur. Printed circuit boards should be placed in antistatic bags when transporting because they are static sensitive. If not done, components may be damaged by the static charges.

Printed circuit board manufacturers continually produce printed circuit boards because they are in high demand. This is because in this day and age, electronic products are everywhere. Almost every electronic product requires these printed circuit boards to function. These PCBs are truly important to our lives.

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Estheban Schnaeder has 12 articles online

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All about Printed Circuit Boards: Brief History, Structure and Usage

This article was published on 2011/11/10