YOU CAN’T MISS THEM That’s right, they’re everywhere. PCB has become an integral component in most electronic devices! Did you know if you’re reading this off your phone, you’re holding one right now! From street lights to telephones, you cannot escape the necessity that has become PCB!
THE FIRST PCBs WERE MADE FROM BRASS – NOT COPPER In the 1920s, Charles Ducas applied to the US Patent Office for a “printed wire” patent, which placed an electronic path directly onto an insulated surface. The process was an early form of electroplating, where wires were printed on a board and the ink conducted electricity. Copper wires were not available for these printed wire circuits, so they were made with brass wires.
THEY WERE “OFFICIALLY” INVENTED BY AN AUSSIE Although Aurora Circuits’ main focus these days is bringing Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing back to the US, we are thankful to the Australian inventor, Paul Eisler for developing the earliest traceable PCB. The first known record of Eisler’s invention was used in a radio set in 1936.
THEY’RE WIRELESS When asked about electronics, most people instantly begin to think of intense wiring, are we right? One of the coolest aspects about PCB is that they are completely wire-free! Circuit boards utilize copper traces to transport electrons. Due to its ability to transfer electrons without wires, the boards are capable of being much smaller! PCB can come in many different formats such as Single layer, Plated-through, and Multi-layer – which utilizes through-hole technology.
WHY THE WHITE ETCHINGS? Have you ever stopped to notice the white etches are that you see on a PCB? These white etches are used to identify components and list important information on the board. It is called “silkscreen”. It can be silk screen printed onto the board and can also be printed by ink-jet printers.
IS IT REALLY A COMMODITY? As PCB experts, we like to tell our customers it is not. We believe this because all PCB is HIGHLY customizable. In fact, every board we manufacture goes through its own CAD design process and engineering approval. PCBs can be ordered and designed to fit almost any specification and size requirement! With electronics only getting smaller and smaller as time goes on, the same can be said for PCB. Surface mount PCBs can up to 1/10th the size of the through-hole circuits – THAT’S AWESOME.
THEY MAKE THEM TWICE… It sounds strange but it’s the truth! Before a PCB can even begin the manufacturing process, it is designed in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program. This software helps engineers and designers to test the layout to ensure that the connections work and perform as desired. Once the engineer is sure that the PCB is operating correctly, the physical board can go into production!
THE GREEN IS ICONIC. The truth of the matter is that the green color of a PCB is only the Solder mask. Solder mask is a layer of polymer that is applied to the copper traces of the PCB. It protects the board against oxidation and prevents solder bridges from forming between closely spaced solder pads. AND GUESS WHAT? The truth is that it can be any color. Solder mask comes in multiple colors, but the most iconic, recognizable color is green.
TRUE OR FALSE – PCB is only made overseas. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE. Some people say that we have lost the ability to build boards in this country, not true. Some people say that we do not have all the technology that companies in other countries have, not true. And some people say that the ability to develop new technologies has been lost in this country, certainly not true. More PCB technology is being developed in the United States than ever before. Just go to Silicon Valley, or Chicago, or Southern California and you will see for yourself that none of these opinions are true. The printed circuit board fabrication capabilities in this country are still very much alive.
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