A Printed Circuit Board is used in most of the gadgets and electronics that we can find around us, ranging from a simple single sided printed circuit board to the extremely complex multi sided printed circuit boards. Our smart phones, radios, cars, computers and even kitchen appliances have printed circuit boards in them.
Putting it simply the PCB is what makes our smart phones become smarter i.e. slimmer and slimmer, version after released version. It takes up less space and allows the mounting of other electronic components directly on to it.
So, What is the Printed Circuit Board?
It is a non conducting board such as glass or plastic on to which a pattern is printed using a conducting metal such as copper. This allows the current to pass only through the conducting pattern at the required rate, which is controlled using transistors, resistors and amplifiers.
How is the board created?
The manufacturing process consists of four main steps.
Completing the board
In the designing phase, the design of circuit is created using a designing software. This is the most important step as this decides if the circuit and eventually the device will function or not. If the circuit design is faulty, all the work at creating the board might be wasted. The Gerber output files from this phase are used to create the board later on.
Once the design is completed the printing or patterning process can be initiated. This is the phase where the circuit design is stenciled on copper covered circuit board. The pattern is created using non corrosive ink so that when the board is immersed in etching solution, only the pattern remains.
The board is now immersed in an etching solution that is a mixture of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide. This etching solution melts or dissolves away the unprotected copper coating leaving only the circuit design that was covered with noncorrosive ink. The pattern which consists of lines of copper remaining on the board, are called traces. The circuit board is finally washed in cold water or a neutralizing bath removing any traces of the remaining etching solution.
The board is now ready for drilling in the places where the components will be attached. Once the drilling is completed, the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is ready for use.
Every company differs in their manufacturing process. This is a very simplified explanation of the manufacturing process. We believe that it is very important for anyone working with circuit boards to have a basic knowledge of how the circuit board is manufactured.