Almost everyone uses devices that incorporate printed circuit boards every single day. It might not be known that these are being used, but they are so widespread and offer so many benefits that almost everyone has them in nearly all of their electronic devices. Used to create electronics, there are many applications for printed circuit boards, many of which use surface mount technology (SMT) to integrate components faster and more efficiently than past technologies.
The Basics of Printed Circuit Boards
A printed circuit board or PCB is a board used to connect electronic components. These are essential parts of all the electronics that people use at home and work each day. PCBs are made using non-conductive material and come with pads, lines, and other features that are etched from a sheet of copper that can electrically connect various components inside of a device. When SMT technology is included, things like resistors and capacitors are soldered onto the board rather than using wires.
Today, PCBs in electronics are common and the most popular way to create new products. The boards themselves can be single-sided, double-sided, or multilayer. They also come in flexible or rigid configurations or can combine both based on need.
PCB Assembly Options
There are two typical methods for assembly of PCBs and their components, including through-hole and surface mount.
- Through-Hole Mount – With this kind of mounting, an assembler will put components leads into holes that are drilled into a PCB. This is an older technology that is not used as often as it used to be. It has a strong connection since the leads run through the board, but it takes more time and effort to work with this kind of mounting technology.
- SMT Technology – With surface mounting, the components are connected to the PCB directly through soldering. The method was first created in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 80s. It’s the most common method of adding components today. Surface-mounted components are smaller so more parts can be placed on a board. This helps with the cost and has led to the proliferation of smaller devices year after year.
Common Uses for Printed Circuit Boards
It might seem like only a few sectors and industries would use printed circuit boards, but that’s not true. These little boards can be found in everything from massive pieces of machinery to small consumer devices. We want to share some of the most common applications for PCBs to give a basic idea of just how integral these items are for pretty much everyone.
LEDs or light-emitting diodes are often used for lighting in both commercial and residential locations. LEDs are also used in many industries including computer technology, automobiles, and medicine. The biggest benefits of LEDs are their long life, energy efficiency, and compact size. PCBs are great for LEDs since they can help transfer heat away from the bulb. High temperatures make LEDs burn out faster, so the PCBs for them are typically made of aluminum to offer the best results. This eliminates the need for an extra heat sink and allows small, compact designs.
The industrial sector uses printed circuit boards and SMT technology in many different ways. Electronic components are used for much of the powering of equipment in distribution and manufacturing centers, as well as other kinds of industrial environments. PCBs in industrial environments need to be exceptionally durable and high powered to handle harsh conditions since they may be around extreme temperatures, rough handling, harsh chemicals, or vibrating machinery. Many of them are made with thermal-resistant durable metals and are often thicker than typical PCBs.
Aerospace applications of PCBs require them to be capable of handling extremely harsh conditions. These printed circuit boards may be used in all sorts of equipment ranging from planes to satellites, space shuttles, and communication systems. The materials used for these PCBs need to withstand harsh conditions like extreme temperatures and large amounts of vibrations. Some are made to be used in outer space and are even more durable. Lightweight PCBs made of things like aluminum can also be useful in some situations.
Security and Safety Equipment
Whether used for homes, government buildings, or commercial businesses, security systems often rely on the use of PCBs and SMT technology. They have a huge effect on security and safety beyond what many are aware of. The PCBs used for these applications can vary based on the actual application, however, all should be reliable since these products must operate correctly at all times. Since some security devices operate outside the home or business, they need to be able to withstand that type of environment, as well. PCBs are used in everything from modern electronic door locks to security cameras, and even smoke detectors.
New technology is constantly being incorporated into the healthcare sector and PCBs add additional capabilities to devices. Printed circuit boards are used in devices for diagnostics, treatment, monitoring, and more. These PCBs need to be exceptionally reliable since they are used to improve patient health. They also often need to meet specific sanitation standards and tend to work best when very small. Some of the devices that use PCBs in healthcare include medical imaging systems, infusion pumps, monitors, and even internal devices.
Electronics for Consumers
Computers, tablets, smartphones, and various other devices that people use every day need PCBs with SMT technology to function. As more electronics become part of everyone’s daily lives, PCBs are there to ensure they operate correctly. The boards allow smaller laptops and other devices while still creating the option of numerous capabilities. Most consumer electronics PCBs are relatively inexpensive to keep product prices low. However, the boards also need to be reliable to keep consumers satisfied.
Advanced Circuits offers a wide variety of printed circuit boards that can use SMT technology. We operate as a one-stop manufacturer and assembler of PCB solutions. We offer innovative technology with quick manufacturing and assembly for a wide variety of industries. Individuals and businesses can reach out to us with an order of any size to see what options we can offer.