We live in a world populated with electronics. Everywhere you go, you will find all sorts of electronic devices such as computers, phones, medical equipment......... the list goes on. However, all of these electronics have one thing in common called PCBs. To put it simply a PCB is an electrical component shaped like a flat board able to house multiple electric components such as diodes, transistors and manages the electrical flow throughout the circuit board. On a macro level, the PCB is the life force of every electronic device on Earth. Without it, they would cease to function.
This is why the manufacturing of these PCBs is a significant process. We call this PCB fabrication. This procedure has multiple industry-standard processes that are followed by most PCB manufacturer. This is especially the case when it comes to creating electronics as they serve a purpose in functioning and maintaining an electronic device.
Below are just a few examples of these:
#1. Design blueprint and design printing:
This is the first procedure in the fabrication process and involves planning of the overall layout of the PCB. This will include circuit diagrams and copper patterns which dictate the current flow direction. Fortunately, the process of PCB fabrication incentivizes neat placements of wires, labeling and spacing of the component places. This, in turn, promotes a circuit with wires in the form of conducting lines that move over the plane board and connect individual points in a circuit.
#2. Creation of substrate:
This is made from an insulating material like fiberglass that holds the structure of the PCB. It acts as the backbone of the PCB, holding the copper layers together. A benefit of using a substrate such as this, is the rigidity it offers and protects the circuit board from breaking making the circuit more stable and immune to movement. Less moving parts means fewer loose parts and fewer inconveniences for the user.
#3. Solder mask:
This is like the protective layer of the layered PCB. It's usually in green color but it is not limited to other color choices such as red or yellow. The main purpose of the solder masks is to protect the copper traces underneath from dust, corrosion and other impurities that can disrupt current flow.
#4. Silk screening:
This process involves the printing of information that is critical to the circuit board. This information includes things like logos, part numbers, symbols and markings. One advantage of this is that it makes repairing of damaged PCBs convenient. Since most symbols are standard across all circuit boards and part numbers make it easy to find the parts needed for repair, making it less complicated for technicians.
With all that said, it is worth knowing that there are other variations of PCB fabrications such as rigid-flex PCBs that incorporates both Rigid board and Flex technologies to create a very flexible version of PCBs. They are heavily used in devices such as pacemakers due to their very compact size and flexibility. With more and more demanding electronics being introduced in the market, this only extends the possibilities of more complex and compact PCBs to support such technologies.