PCB fabrication is similar to a form of art, but unlike art, it is not something made available to be seen by the public. Instead, it has become one of the pillars of modern technology. PCB means Printed Circuit Board; it is found in almost all modern appliances, computers, mobile phones, electric cars, machines, etc. PCBs facilitate the data transfer from one part to another. In larger systems, PCBs enable the transfer of electric charges containing information from one PCB to another.
Perhaps the best example of a printed circuit board is the motherboard of a PC. It connects all the functioning components of a computer such as the power supply, memory, hard drive, and processor, which enables these components to work together to make a display interface on the PC monitor. A lot simple kinds of PCBs are the green-colored plates commonly covered in soldered materials and copper patterns that can be found in old electronic devices like voice recorders and radios.
PCB as a Work of Art
Because of the intricate attention needed in all PCB processes, PCB fabrication has become a form of art, creating an end product that is always close to perfection. Since every board design is created to perform specific tasks in allocated points and has a unique function for certain product lines, a standard printed circuit board does not exist. Industrial PCB assembly has become more and more modernized, thus leading to the creation of more computerized assembly lines than those operated by human hands. However, it cannot go perfectly well without the involvement of humans.
The first step of a long process of PCB fabrication is designing. It is an indispensable part of the process and without the right design team, all the experienced PCB assembly workers and modern equipment are for nothing. Designing a PCB is not about beauty, but rather about functionality. When designing, it determines the production cost, physical dimensions, functionality, overall reliability, capacity, and lifespan of the product.
Modern PCB Design
Even the process of designing has become modernized and normally done by an electronic engineer using a CAD or Computer-Aided Design program where graphics are illustrated and every part is specified to the tiniest of measurements. It is also where the working conditions are generated with the components placed digitally; the environmental, geometric, and thermal conditions are also considered. The images created using this design process are open 2-dimensional. They are also in a Gerber format (.gbr) or binary vector image file format. These types of files have become the standard format of PCB design as mandated by ICP – a major organization in the electronics world.
The image will be turned into commands for computer-controlled devices that would take over the PCB fabrication process. These devices follow the instructions to solder, drill, wash, coat, and reduce the board. They print the features of the PCB, doing just what they are programmed to do. To ensure a perfect process, human supervision will still be needed.
All the PCB assembly processes are performed in a clean environment where the physical component parts are free from any kind of contamination. Electronic and visual inspections are done all through the process to make sure no defective product will make it outside.
Because of the miniaturization of electronics, it continues to push PCBs to be created smaller, boosting demands in the market for densely-packed PCBs with improved capabilities. It is for the same reason that enforced higher standards from the electronic and industrial regulatory boards, which consequently led to bigger challenges for designers and electronic engineers. Nevertheless, they continue to drive through, enhancing their art and helping improve the quality of life of common individuals.