10 Facts about Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are everywhere in this modern age. You can find them in smartphones, tablets, computers, radios, and all sorts of other electronics. Although we are surrounded by them, some of us might not know a whole lot about PCBs. To help you understand a little bit more about circuit boards, here are 10 facts about printed circuit boards.


1. Who invented PCBs?

Although the development leading up to the invention of the circuit board can be traced all the way back to the 1890s, the invention of the printed circuit board is credited to Paul Eisler, an Austrian inventor. Paul Eisler first developed the printed circuit board when he was working on a radio set in 1936, but circuit boards did not see mass usage until after the 1950s. From then onwards, the popularity of PCBs began rapidly growing.


2. Why are they green?

You may have noticed that the majority of printed circuit boards have a green colour and you’re probably wondering why. The green colour that you see on the circuit board is actually just the colour of the solder mask that is showing through the glass epoxy. The purpose of the solder mask is to protect the electronic traces underneath from moisture and dust. In reality, the solder mask can come in a variety of colours, such as orange, blue, and yellow, not just green.

There are a few reasons why the majority of circuit boards are green:

  • The green colour is believed to have been used as the regulation standard for PCBs when they were being used by the American military and it has spread to the rest of the world.
  • The original colour of the glass epoxy is naturally green and the colour may still be used to stay conventional.

Ultimately, the green colour is largely used in the manufacturing of PCBs because engineers find it easier to look for faults in the trace lines.


3. PCBs are used everywhere.

You may or may not know this already, but PCBs are used in almost everything electrical. Printed circuit boards are widely used for all types of electronics, from simple to complex devices such as your mobile phone, tablet, and computer. Even though we use electronic devices every day, we normally don’t realise how important these boards can be in modern technology.


4. They are designed using CAD.

Printed circuit boards are quite complex pieces of electronics and they are designed using Computer Aided Design, or CAD for short. Technicians use CAD to design various parts of the PCB, such as the schematic and the layout. Essentially, by designing a PCB using CAD software, you can test the board to see if all of the traces are properly connected before the actual physical assembly.


 5. There are two main manufacturing techniques.

When it comes to the manufacturing techniques and mounting techniques, there are two main methods of mounting components onto a circuit board. Through-hole technology and Surface mount technology.

Through-hole or THT, was developed in the 1940s and it had become a popular method of mounting components. Essentially, through-hole utilises holes that are drilled into the PCB and then the leads of the components are fed through and soldered to the pads on the opposite side, either by manual assembly or machinery.

Surface mount technology was then developed in the 1960s which is a technique allows components to be placed directly onto the surface of the board. This eliminated the need to drill holes through the PCB, which meant that the mounting and soldering of the components can be automated, saving time and cost for a more consistent circuit. If you require a full-turnkey solution for PCB assembly, then take a look at our PCB assembly services over at Kasdon PCB.


6. PCBs utilise traces not wires.

You may be quite familiar with electric devices requiring wires to transmit energy, however, PCBs are an exception. Instead of wires, these boards use copper traces to transport electrons. These traces are a lot smaller than your traditional wires and they are also flat which means they take up less space. Using copper traces proves to be more efficient than using wires when connecting small components on a circuit board.


7. They have lots of components.

As circuit boards are complex electronics, they will consist of several various components. These components all have their own individual properties and serve different purposes on the board. Here is a short list of some of the components which you can expect to find on a PCB: capacitors, resistors, inductors, diodes, batteries, fuses, transistors, and more.


8. Circuit boards are miniaturising.

As technology advances and electronics become smaller, we can see this reflected in the PCB industry. Developers are under more pressure than ever to develop smaller PCBs that can meet the demand for smaller and more compact electronics. There has also been research into the potential uses of graphene for PCBs as they serve as excellent conductors of electricity. It may even be possible that graphene can help miniaturise PCBs even more as it does not require the same cooling methods as the current circuits require.


9. There are a variety of PCB types.

Printed circuit boards aren’t all the same. In fact, there are several types of circuit boards available and each of them has their own properties that are suitable for certain tasks. Some types of boards may be more suited to low-performance devices, which means that they are cheaper and easier to manufacture. Whereas other types of boards may be more suited to high power devices but will be more expensive to produce. Here are the different types of boards: Single sided, double sided, multi-layered, flexible, rigid, flexible-rigid, and metal-backed. You can learn more about the different types of PCBs here.


10. You can customise PCBs.

Did you know that printed circuit boards can be completely customised to your order? You can request a PCB company to design and manufacture circuit boards that completely ticks all of your requirements. For example, if you need to add more functionality to a device, then ordering a custom PCB may be better than a standard PCB. If you require PCB manufacturing, then take a look at our PCB fabrication services here.


Contact Clarydon for Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing

Clarydon has a wealth of expertise in PCB manufacturing. If you require printed circuit board manufacturing then please get in touch with one of our PCB specialists and we would be happy to help.

Call us on 01902 606 000 or you can email us at [email protected].