PCB 101: Everything You Need to Know to Build a Knowledge of PCB Assembly

low volume pcb

Did you know that circuit board manufacturing reached $44 billion of revenue in 2014? Circuit boards are in just about every electronic device on the market these days. In fact, practically every electronic device you own, from your phone to your gaming console, wouldn’t be able to function without one.

But what exactly is a circuit board? How are they made? If you’re curious about the answers to either of those questions, you’re in the right place. Circuit board assembly and PCB fabrication are fascinating processes, and we’re here to teach you the basics. Here’s a short introduction to the world of prototype PCB assembly.

What’s a PCB?
PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board. PCB is the most commonly used term, but “printed wiring boards” is another term commonly used to refer to PCBs. Before the height of PCB, circuits were made with point-to-point wiring processes. Not only were these processes long and tedious, they led to very short lifespans for circuit boards. Now, technology allows for a much faster, more effective PCB fabrication process. In addition, modern PCB production allows the final product to be built to a higher quality and to last much longer than its predecessors.

What is a PCB made of?
There are many layers to PCB production, and to the PCBs themselves. Alternating layers of different materials are laminated together in order to create a single, cohesive, and operational product. The base material in a printed circuit board is typically fiberglass. Fiberglass is used if a PCB needs a solid, inflexible base. For those PCBs in need of more flexibility, a high-temperature plastic is a common substitution. The thickness of a PCB depends on the manufacturer as well as its intended purpose. For example, a large, thick PCB wouldn’t be necessary for a smartphone.

Different Manufacturing Processes
Again, the type of PCB depends on the manufacturing process. A low volume PCB assembly would handle small batches of PCB fabrication. Low volume PCB services typically are defined as less than 5,000 units in a single batch.

Stay tuned for more PCB basics blogs if you’re ready to learn more!

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