From the computers we use to the phones in our pockets, printed circuits boards (PCBs) are everywhere. Designed and manufactured with a variety of components, these electronic boards allow us to use engineered devices in our everyday lives. From the board components to the manufacturing process, understanding what PCBs are made of is essential for anyone looking to join the world of electronics engineering.
At the heart of every PCB is the base material. While there is more than one type of material used to make PCBs, the most popular is fiberglass. This strong yet flexible substance allows for efficient manufacturability, serving as the substrate for other components. On top of the fiberglass are copper foil strips, which provide the electrical current necessary for PCB functionality. The copper foil is then etched to create the necessary pathways for current flow. To protect the copper from corrosion, a special coating is then added.
Once the copper has been placed and treated, the design of the PCB is formed from a combination of different additives. Printed solder mask is used to help keep the copper from being exposed to air or moisture, while silkscreen is applied to indicate any necessary labeling such as labels for connectors or LED lights. Other materials such as resins may also be used to reinforce the board.
Finally, the PCB is ready to be assembled. Depending on the design, a variety of components are added such as integrated circuits, transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Each of these components is soldered onto the PCB and connected to the necessary pathways. After inspection, the PCB is tested to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
From the degree of complexity to the carefully crafted components, it’s easy to see why PCBs are a vital part of modern electronics. By understanding the materials used in the manufacturing process and the intricate assembly, the world of engineering can continue to move forward.
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