The printed circuit board or most commonly known as the mother board, is the “brain” of any electronic devices in the market. Aside from making the wirings more compact, PCB’s also make an electronic device safer to use due minimized short-circuits (as compared to the ancient wire-to-wire connections). PCB’s could be classified according to the number of its layers or sides.
The simplest of all PCB’s is the single-sided printed circuit board. The board in which the electrical components and the copper tracks are fixed is called a substrate. In single-sided boards, there is only one substrate in which the electrical components are soldered to one side and the copper tracks are put into place at the other side.
The most common type of printed circuit board is the double-sided board. In this type of board, a set of both the electrical components and copper tracks are fixed on the same side of the substrate and another set of components and tracks are secured on the other side. Both sides of the substrate in a double-sided circuit board are connected with each other using the through-hole technology (also known as “thru-hole”). Through-hole technology refers to the pattern in which electric components are fixed into place by inserting lead fibers attached these components through holes drilled on the printed circuit board. These lead fibers are then soldered on the other side of the substrate either manually (using people’s hands) or automatically (using machines).
If there are several layers of substrate used in a PCB, that PCB is called multi-layered printed circuit board. Multi-layered PCB involves many layers (more than 2) of substrate divided by a protecting material called insulation. Multi-layered PCBs are used in extremely intricate circuits most commonly found in electronic units like television and laptop computers. To date, the most number of layers of substrate used in a single printed circuit board has 42 layers. These types of boards are used in extremely complex electronic circuits.
Another way of classifying PCBs is by the materials used for the substrate.
Cheaper electronics for the budget-conscious consumers need cheaper PCBs. In order to minimize the cost, a type of PCB uses phenolic paper to make printed circuit board substrates. Phenolic substrates are very tough because they are made of phenolic polymers (components of plastic) and wood fibers. It is usually brown in color.
Another type of PCB is the epoxy. The circuit board is made of epoxy resin interwoven to fiberglass cloth. The epoxy resin is a substance that is fire resistant. Oftentimes, the name epoxy is preceded by the letters FR—meaning fire retardant. It shows the safety of flammability of the product based on standards set by governing bodies. It also normally uses bromine, a halogen, to help the epoxy board’s flame-resistant properties. Epoxy boards ensure that even though short-circuits might occur, this will not lead the electronic product to burst into flames.
For more discerning electronic products, the ultimate circuit board is described as high and ultra-high performance. With the world currently demanding to be always updated and its increasing dependency on battery-operated consumer electronics, it is of importance to use ultra-high performance circuit boards. Presently, most of the ultra-high circuit boards are based on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or more popularly known as Teflon). PTFE is very non-reactive and also diminishes friction and energy consumption of a device.
Printed circuit boards are very useful in programing devices. As technology continues to evolve, materials and layers of PCB become more and more complex. Manufacturers of electronics just need to choose which among these many types of PCB will make their products safer and more efficient to use.