Five Facts About Printed Circuit Boards That Will Surprise You

Pcb electronics

Believe it or not, inside just about every electronic device that we handle is a printed circuit board. Printed circuit boards are essentially the brains of the device, and control the electrical flow throughout the piece of hardware.

Companies produce PCBS using manufacturing on demand. This means that the PCBs that the fabricator turns out has been designed and created using specifications determined by the final electronics production team.

While PCB fabrication may sound highly technical and decidedly modern, the origins of PCB manufacturing and PCB prototypes date back to the early 20th century. Intrigued? Here are some other fun facts that you may not have known about PCBs:

They became popular in the 1950s

Though PCBs were developed nearly 50 years prior, they did not become nearly as common until the 1950s. Before manufacturing on demand, the Auto-Sembly process was developed by the U.S. Army around this time, and eventually evolved into the prototype PCB assembly process that we use today.

They’re almost always green

In their earliest days, circuit boards were made of Bakelite, which was brown. But today, the glass-expoxy that major manufacturers use is typically green. The soldermask, which protects the circuit board from oxidation, is what determines the color of a circuit board. The soldermask has the potential to be any color, but most manufacturers have decided to keep the board green in color. However, some companies choose to make uniquely colored circuit boards, so you’ll always recognize them.

They can be ruined by static electricity

A simple static charge can completely wipe out an entire etch on a PCB. Anti-static bags should always be used when transporting a PCB, as they can be easily damaged.

They’re tested with CT scans

Did you think that CT scans were just for humans? Think again. They are the preferred method of testing PCB prototypes. CT scans can be used to gather a 3D rendering of the circuit board, showing paths and connections.

You can make sculptures with them

Like most technologies, a PCB’s lifespan wont last forever. Instead of throwing unusable boards away, some people have recycled their PCBs in creative ways. Some people have created fantastic sculptures by using PCBs, keeping them out of landfills and turning them into something new.

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