Printed circuit boards are a vital part of modern electronics. Each board is comprised of a variety of passive and active components, which are connected via copper traces etched into the board when it is printed. It’s possible to use multiple layers to fit a very large circuit onto a relatively small printed circuit board.
There are a number of advantages to using printed circuit boards. Here are some of the key ones.
One of the defining characteristics of a PCB is that it is able to squeeze a large number of components into a relatively small space. Because the components are connected by copper traces that form part of the board’s physical structure, rather than using a physical wire, they are much less prone to failure.
Today, many of the components are very small. This is part of the reason why consumer electronics have become smaller and more compact over time.
There is now a broad selection of PCB design software available. Anyone can download and start using PCB design software if they want to try it out.
There are also a number of premium paid software options, such as Altium. Check out their website for a PCB design tutorial that should give you an idea of what their software interface is like.
Easy Diagnostics and Repairs
When a printed circuit board fails, it is usually easy to identify the individual component that is causing issues. Both individual components and their respective polarities should be clearly labelled on the board. Signal paths can be traced during diagnostics to quickly troubleshoot any problems.
Producing PCBs is much quicker and cheaper than producing a traditional circuit board, it is also easier to do at scale. A PCB uses connections that are etched into the board during its printing and production, there is no need to manually connect the components together using physical wires. In fact, there’s no need for any physical assembly at all.
Because the connections of a PCB are internal and the components fixed to the circuit board, PCBs can be moved around and withstand physical knocks and bangs. Traditional circuit boards contain physical wires, contact points and other potential points of failure. Every time a circuit board is moved, there is a chance that one of these failure points will fail, potentially rendering the whole board useless.
When a printed circuit board is designed properly, it gives much less electronic noise. However, it should be noted that if a board is not designed properly then the opposite may well be true and the electronic noise can significantly degrade the performance of the board.
Both businesses that produce electronics and hobbyists who like to build their own hardware can benefit enormously from the use of PCBs. Printed circuit boards are cheaper and easier to produce than traditional circuit boards, yet manage to be more resilient and longer lasting. Download one of the many free PCB design software packages available today and learn how to design and produce these circuits yourself.