Technology has improved the standard of life and increased efficiency, innovation, and connectivity globally. As a result, circuit boards have become an essential part of our culture and our lives. They are necessary for everything from the television in your living room to the kitchen appliance in your refrigerator and even your car radio. Circuit boards are part of almost every manufactured product in the world today. Technologies used in education, entertainment, defense, health, or transport, would have been impossible without circuit boards.
Circuit boards are the foundation of all electronic devices like smartphones, computers, cars, televisions, etc. They allow the interconnection of components like microprocessors or integrated circuits (ICs) through conductive pathways while protecting them from external interference. A circuit board is a flat, rectangular board used to create a circuit. Though minor, the circuit board comprises several parts that allow your appliance to work efficiently. The parts include an energy source, the conductor, controller switch, and the electrical board. First, let’s look at the two circuit boards; printed and hardwired circuit boards.
Printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are what make computers and other digital devices possible or why your smartphone can fit in your pocket. Printed circuit boards are made up of a base material laminated with a thin layer of copper. The metal is then etched, removing the unwanted copper and leaving behind the pattern needed to create the electronic circuit. The base material can be made from various materials, including fiberglass, resin-coated paper, and epoxy-bonded fiberglass. Components are generally soldered onto the PCB to both electrically connect and mechanically fasten them.
The connections on modern printed circuit boards are made through conductive traces, which are etched directly on the board’s surface and covered with a protective coating. The insulating material affords protection from electrical shorts and radio-frequency interference. The conductive pathways permit the flow of electrons between components, which make up the printed circuit assembly (PCA), or can be connected to wires that lead outside of the board. The solder mask masks the copper foil, which gives the PCB its green or red color. On top of the solder mask is the silkscreen, on which letters, symbols, and numbers are inscribed.
Hardwired Circuit Boards
The circuit boards of the past had to be made by hand. Also called the point-to-point circuitry, the hardwired circuit boards use non-automated hand wiring the components to complete the circuit. Hard-wiring means physically soldering the components into the board. Each component needed to be individually wired to the other components on the board. This process is called point-to-point wiring or hardwired circuitry. You can’t easily change the circuitry with hard-wired boards because everything is permanently soldered in place. Just as necessary, you can’t easily replace a component if it breaks because you have to unsolder every wire.
Main Differences between the Circuits
The circuit boards in your laptop computer or cell phone would be impossible to make with the hard-wired circuit boards that preceded them. However, hardwired circuitry is still used in some areas of computer technology, such as old-fashioned telephone exchanges and large-scale industrial control systems. Prototype PCBs came into existence because of a problem with hardwired circuitry. Connecting chips too densely together caused them to overheat. Manufacturers placed insulating plastic between each chip to prevent overheating to solve this issue. This design allowed manufacturers to place even more chips in a smaller space than ever before, which led to more powerful computers. Printed circuit boards also allow for easier and faster repairs as one simply needs to replace whichever chip malfunctions rather than rewiring the entire board. The prototype PCBs are also often less expensive than the hardwired boards.
Why PCBs are Superior
The ability to mass-produce prototype PCBs made consumer electronics possible. The first radio kits that could be assembled at home used PCB technology because there were too many parts to wire manually. It also made it possible for computers to be small enough to fit on a desk rather than fill an entire room. The prototype PCBs are better than hardwired circuit boards because they are easier to customize. You will be able to change out components on the board or make modifications quickly. In addition, PCBs are less expensive than hardwiring, more reliable, and save space by reducing the need for wires and connectors. Printed circuit boards are now found everywhere, from home appliances to medical equipment, automobiles, aircraft, and satellites.