In today’s world, computers are a necessity in almost all aspects of life. From controlling the cars we drive and the homes in which we live to detecting diseases and much more, even the simplest computer can make a tremendous difference in our lives. However, for a computer to perform its functions, it relies on a printed circuit board. While originally these items were very large in size, modern engineering now allows printed circuit boards to be made smaller and smaller, sometimes being the size of a penny or even smaller. But while people know a computer relies on a printed circuit board to function, most know little about how the PCB specifically does its job. To learn the inner workings of a PCB, here are some important details to keep in mind.
1- Surface Mount Technology
First introduced in the 1960s, surface mount technology is now widely used in most computers. By being able to install components on both sides of the circuit board, circuit densities have become much higher in recent years. As a result, these circuit boards help computers process larger amounts of data much faster than before. And because this technology has allowed for much smaller printed circuit boards, they are able to be used in more and more items, such as mobile devices. Additional facts about this can be seen here.
When it comes to the ways a PCB help a car’s computer, much of it centers around microprocessors. Since the circuit board contains the chips needed to run the various types of software needed in a vehicle, numerous inputs from various systems can be analyzed simultaneously, enabling the PCB to send data to different aspects of the vehicle’s operating system. And along with vehicles, microprocessors linked to printed circuit boards are also used in many types of industrial equipment, such as that found in high-tech industrial machine shops.
3- Multiple Copper Layers
One of the most important aspects of this technology, multiple copper layers serve a variety of functions within a computer. One of the most important is acting as the signal transfer link between the PCB and the computer itself, which helps to determine how quickly the computer will recognize the task and complete it as fast as possible. By having these multiple layers of copper, a PCB can be made to not only function much faster, but also be more durable, since the additional copper layers can be placed underneath insulating material.
4- Substrate Parameters
Designed to protect the circuit board from being damaged, substrate parameters are considered vital in keeping a computer running smoothly and efficiently. One of the most important aspects of substrate parameters is dielectric breakdown voltage, which is responsible for keeping the maximum voltage the computer will be subjected to within safe levels, enabling it to function without suffering a breakdown due to conduction or arcing.
5- Conformal Coating
To ensure the circuit boards can be installed in computers and then perform well in harsh work environments, they are given what’s known as a conformal coating. Sprayed on after the board’s components have been soldered, this coating lessens the likelihood of corrosion or other related issues. By having this coating, the boards can perform well in environments where extreme temperatures, high humidity levels, dust, and dirt may be present. In addition to this, the coating also makes them much more resistant to static charges, which if left unchecked can damage a circuit board and computer beyond repair. Therefore, when assembling a printed circuit board and then installing it into a computer, great care is exercised to ensure even small traces of static are not present on the board. Otherwise, it’s highly likely the board and computer will fail at some point.
By using a variety of different manufacturing techniques, along with high-tech installation methods within a variety of computerized devices, printed circuit boards are able to function well under almost any circumstances. From powering the most sophisticated vehicle on the road today to helping a college student complete a term paper on a standard laptop computer, it’s clear this technology continues to revolutionize the ways computers are used in today’s world.