6 Interesting Facts About Printed Circuit Boards

August 16, 2023
6 interesting facts about printed circuit boards

A printed circuit board (PCB) is a central component in any kind of electronic device that you can imagine, including everything from laptop computers and refrigerators to medical equipment. Why are PCBs crucial for such a wide array of devices and appliances, and what function do they serve? 

It is difficult to state a singular purpose for PCBs since there is such a large variety of them, and nearly every device that operates with a PCB requires its own version. However, PCBs are generally used to mechanically support and electrically connect various electronic components.

This is made possible by a PCB’s conductive pathways, which come from its tracks and signal traces etched from copper sheets and laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. By connecting all of the components that a given device may need, PCBs make it possible for that device to function as intended and even allow for complex processes.

Some Interesting Facts About Printed Circuit Boards

The fact that PCBs are essential for all sorts of electronic devices is quite fascinating. Beyond this, however, there are a number of other reasons why PCBs are interesting, such as the following:

1. The inventor of PCBs inadvertently signed away manufacturing and patenting rights

The printed circuit board was invented by a Viennese engineer named Paul Eisler in 1936. After creating the concept for PCBs, Eisler struggled to find proper funding to continue his experimentation and testing of his new invention. Near the beginning of World War II, Eisler met Harold V. Strong, the owner of a printing house, and he convinced Strong to become his patron. 

Unfortunately, Eisler failed to read Strong’s contract before signing it, and he inadvertently forfeited the rights to his invention for a mere one English pound sterling. Although Eisler was also granted 16.5% ownership of Strong’s company, Technograph, he never managed to amass much of a fortune because a monopoly for printed circuit boards could never be achieved.

2. PCBs are crucial for space exploration

Since PCB technology was still in its early infancy when the Apollo 11 mission took astronauts to the moon for the very first time in 1969, the rocket that was used for this mission, the Saturn V, was unable to fully take advantage of PCB technology. However, Saturn V’s Apollo Guidance Computer, which provided the rocket with guidance and support, featured the application of integrated circuits in a surface mount form factor.

Roughly ten years later, following the success of the Apollo space program, NASA decided to redesign its space shuttles; this time, PCBs played a central role. The progress of PCB technology made it possible for NASA’s new shuttles to rely on extremely powerful computers that were only the size of a shoebox.

Since then, PCBs have continued to play a crucial role in the design and function of modern rockets, such as those developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

3. PCBs are often designed using computer-aided design 

As PCBs are rather complex electronic components, they are often designed, at least in part, using computer-aided design (CAD). PCB engineers tend to use CAD to design certain parts of a PCB, such as its schematic and layout. 

Designing elements of a PCB with CAD software in this way makes it possible to test the board to ensure all traces are properly connected even before it is physically assembled.

4. PCBs are commonly green due to their military applications

The most traditional colour for PCBs is green, which is the colour of the solder resist layer of glass paint translucent. As green is the natural protection colour in the armed forces according to army protection standards, when PCBs were first used in military equipment, they were made green to match these standards. 

Ever since then, this trend has continued. These days, though, solder resist is available in a wide variety of colours, including blue, white, black, yellow, red, and so on.

5. Some PCBs are flexible

Although many PCBs are designed to be flat and rigid, an increasing number of them are designed to be soft and flexible for use in tightly spaced electronic devices.

The introduction of flexible PCBs has revolutionized their function and made it possible for them to take up considerably less space. This has also resulted in weight and cost reductions. Flexible PCBs typically have many moving joints in the application circuit or form a multilayer 3D circuit.

6. The world’s largest PCB is 28 meters long

When we consider PCBs, we generally tend to think of rather tiny electronic parts. This is because a small size is necessary for a PCB to fit inside a device. However, this is not always the case.

The world’s largest PCB ever manufactured is, surprisingly, 28 meters in length. This extremely long multilayer PCB is made of flexible polyimide and is used in an unmanned solar aircraft made by Johnson Electronics.

How Circuits Central Can Help You Design and Manufacture Perfect PCBs

If you require assistance with PCB manufacturing in Toronto, Circuits Central can provide you with access to a reliable and flexible-by-design production facility that can be used to produce a range of types, volumes, and complexities of PCBs. Our team of experts offers a full spectrum of PCB services for any stage in your PCB design, manufacturing, or testing processes.

Whether you need help with schematic and PCB layout design, prototyping, or assembly, we have the solutions you need. Our skilled and experienced engineers and technicians can work with you to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for.

In our state-of-the-art PCB production facility, we use the latest and most innovative industry technology to ensure that the PCBs we create are consistently of the highest possible quality.

We also perform intensive and comprehensive testing throughout the assembly process to ensure that every PCB we work on is flawless. If you would like the highest possible calibre of professional care and attention applied to the design and production of your PCBs, Circuits Central can provide exactly that.

For more information about Circuit Central’s various PCB-related services or to get a quote, call Circuits Central at 1 (888) 602-7264 or contact us here.

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