Out With The Old, In With The New How The Modern Printed Circuit Board Is Made

Pcb design and layout

The printed circuit board is a complex piece of hardware. Thanks to the ingenuity of countless programmers and engineers we’re able to enjoy long-distance technology, advanced programs and, of course, our favorite iPhone app. But how are circuit boards made? Just like crafting anything else, learning about the development of this essential slice of everyday life starts with the materials. The very best printed circuit board is born through a result of skilled engineers and manufacturing plants choosing products that will last.

Quick Facts

Circuit board prototyping has never looked better. The past three decades have seen PCB assemblies being integrated into more products and equipment than ever, streamlining much of what we interact with to an almost seamless degree. The majority of traffic lights used in North America, for example, are now boasting state-of-the-art PCB manufacturing. The two types of circuit assemblies related to the printed circuit board are the integrated circuit (known as a microchip) and the hybrid circuit. Every prototype circuit board has its unique traits, designed specifically to bring out the best possible performance from each product.

Printing

As you can imagine, the advent of 3-D printing and manufacturing lines have made the mass production of the prototype circuit board a breeze. Not only is the margin for human error reduced, a high-quality circuit board can be created in no time at all. The three available methods to print the circuit board legend are silk screen printing, liquid photo imaging and ink jet printing. These include all the information needed to make sure the product reaches completion — you have your component designators, switch settings, test points and any and all indications that will make assembly as smooth as possible.

Stencils

Related to printing, stencils are needed to get the shape and design down in the early stages of the printed circuit board assembly process. Framed stencils have smooth aperture walls that can be used for up to 16 Mil pitch for the smaller models. A surface mount PCB are up to one-tenth of the size of through-hole circuits, so you can imagine the accuracy needed to ensure these turn out well each and every time. Combining stencils with printing eventually brings forth the laminates that will bring the PCB ever closer to completion.

Laminates

You need high-quality materials to create the stunningly even laminates of today. These are manufactured by curing under both heat and pressure, with specialized layers of cloth or paper with thermoset resin providing uniform thickness. This size can be up to four by eight feet in width and length and as small as your thumb. The preferred insulating substrate used for rigid printed circuit boards involves a thin layer of copper foil for either one or both sides. The interconnected circuitry are gradually etched into these delicate layers, creating the complex design we all know today.

The Future Of The Prototype Circuit Board

The demand for fast, effective and accurate prototype PCB assembly is reaching a fever pitch. The global printed circuit board market is going to reach an estimated $73 billion by the time 2022 arrives. Technavio’s market research analysis has also predicted the market to grow more than 3% by 2020. Consumers are ever hungry for efficient technology and businesses want to make sure they’re many steps ahead of the game. Quick turn PCB prototypes combine the best of the old to make way for the new. Knowing how this process works will sharpen your eye for quality and help with choosing the best possible manufacturing services.

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