How to Choose the Right Type of Printed Circuit Board

Printed circuit boards or PCBs are commonly used in electronic devices worldwide. These boards are what makes electronic devices or equipment function. That means, most of the human population interacts or uses printed circuit boards in their daily lives.

Circuit boards are particularly important for smart cities and professionals working in them. They are already providing a useful service in almost all other fields of life. Tiny pieces of technology with sensors are installed all around the smart cities and each of them needs a PCB to power them. This makes it crucials for professionals working in them to learn about Printed Circuit Boards.

There is somewhat of a learning curve for someone new to PCB, as not everyone is familiar with these boards. To find the most suitable PCB for your project, it might be useful to go over the definitions, applications, and the PCB types that you could end up using. Also, you will need to find a manufacturer that produces quality PCB, such as mktpcb.com.

What Are Printed Circuit Boards (PCB)?

A printed circuit board is an essential component of most electronics devices manufactured these days. Its purposes are multifunctional. It is used for support in electronics devices, and serves as the base wiring area for the socketed and surface-mounted components.

Most PCBs are made for simple electronics, which is why they are simply manufactured of a single layer. However, there are many devices and gadgets that require much more than a simple single-layered printed circuit board. For more complex and sophisticated cases, PCBs can be multi-layered and have many more functions.

While PCBs are most commonly associated with computers and smartphones, they have a wide range of applications that you can read about below. But first, let’s get into common types of printed circuit boards.

What Are Different Types of Printed Circuit Boards (PCB)?

Single-Layered PCBs

As the name suggests, the single-layered or single-sided printed circuit boards are manufactured from a single layer of a substrate or base material. On one side of the layer, you will see a coating with a thin layer of a metal, mainly copper.

After the copper base is applied to the PCB in-progress, a layer of solder mask is applied. After that, there is a silky screen that marks out all the elements on the board.

A single-layered PCB only has the components and various circuits on one side of the board. That is why they are the cheapest to design and manufacture. If you have a need for a high volume order, then you can get a really great price for the PCBs

As mentioned above, these PCBs are quite simple. That is why they are used in simple electronics like calculators, power supplies, radios, and stereo equipment.

Double-Layered PCBs

Doubles sided printed circuit boards are much more complicated, as they have two sides. Just like a single-layered PCB, these also use a thin base material. But here, the conductive metal, such as copper, is coated on both sides of the material. Also, several holes are needed to be drilled to make the circuits on one side connect with the ones on the opposite side.

The circuits and the components on a double-layered PCB are generally connected in one of two ways to the opposite side. The first way is called through-hole. Some wires or leads are crossed through the holes and to the opposite side with the through-hole method. Then the leads or wires are soldered right on the components they were meant for.

The second, and more popular, option is surface mount. In this option, many small leads are directly soldered on the board. That means the PCB itself is used as a wiring surface for the various components. The surface mount method is more popular because the circuits get completed without taking up much space. This allows the PCB to perform more functions, generally at a speed higher than what a through-hole connection would permit.

Even though these are more complex, they are not used in complicated electronics. Some examples of where double-layered PCBs are used are: LED lights, amplifiers, power supplies, vending machines, and HVAC systems.

Multi-Layered PCBs

Multi-layer printed circuit boards are made of at least three double-layered PCBs. The printed circuit boards are safely secured in place with special glue. There is also quite a bit of insulation packed in between the PCBs to avoid any of them overheating and melting the components.

While the multi-layered PCBs can be as small as three layers, they can easily have up to twelve. Not many manufacturers go above twelve, but you can find one if your needs require you to. The largest one ever manufactured has 50 layers.

The number of layers of a multi-layered PCB can make them very thick. Still, they are used in a wide range of complicated applications. These could include data storage, GPS, medical equipment, and file servers.

Flexible PCBs

By its name, you might’ve guessed that these PCBs are made out of materials that allow the board to flex and move. Since they are printed on flexible materials, the manufacturing can be more costly than with rigid PCBs.

While the manufacturing might be more costly, they can make up for it with their flexible nature. These PCBs can be folded over the edges and wrapped around the corners, allowing you to save costs by fitting one flexible PCB instead of many rigid ones.

They can be made of a single-layered PCB, a broad multi-layered PCB, or anything in between.

Rigid PCBs

Rigid PCBs get their name because their boards are made out of a solid substrate, which prevents it from twisting or changing shape.

Most of the PCBs that are manufactured are most commonly rigid in nature. These are used where the PCB’s exact shape needs to remain constant to get the maximum use out of it. They can be anything from simple single-layered PCB to a twelve-layered multi-layered printed circuit board.

Other PCBs

When you go to a manufacturer for more information, you might see that they have a wide range of PCB options available. You can check out the details on the following PCBs if they seem like what you are looking for:

  • Aluminum PCB
  • LED PCB
  • High-frequency PCB
  • Heavy copper PCB
  • High Tg PCB
  • HDI or high-density interconnect PCB

What Are The Applications of Printed Circuit Boards (PCB)?

LEDs

LED lighting has become incredibly popular over recent years for commercial and residential uses. Nowadays, people are using it for all sorts of creative purposes a well. These LED lights are favored for their long life and energy efficiency.

But the problem with LEDs was that the light’s high temperature was decreasing the average life span of LEDs. For that purpose, the PCBs used in making these LED lights were manufactured using aluminum, which is excellent for heat transfer. This can allow it to be compact and eliminates the need for any additional designs.

Article written by: MKTPCB.
Header image by BRDNK Vision on Unsplash.

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