What is PCB Design in Electronics? 

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What is PCB? It’s the shortened form for the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). It’s such an essential and crucial element within the domain of electronics that without it, no electronic device that we use will ever exist! PCB is an electronic assembly that uses Copper as a conductor to establish electrical connections between various components within a device. 

This blog will help you understand why PCB is essential, PCB types, and how to design it. But if you already know the basics of PCB, then PCB Design Course will help you further your knowledge and validate your expertise. 

Table of Content:

  • What is the purpose of PCB?
  • What are the advantages of PCB?
  • What are the types of PCBs? 
  • What are the basics of PCB Design? 
  • Conclusion

What is the purpose of PCB?

Since the early 20th century, PCBs have been continuously upgraded to incorporate many new electronic components. PCB’s sole purpose is to offer electrical connection and mechanical support to all the circuitry components. 

What are the advantages of PCB?

Saves Space: Small PCBs with efficient electrical connection and mechanical support help in reducing space needed for essential components. This advantage is more visible in smartphones and smartwatches, which are made thinner and lighter with each update due to more advanced PCBs that help in saving more space.

Lower costs: Making circuits more efficient using lesser components help lower costs. This helps in using smaller PCBs which ultimately helps in reducing costs. Developing these small PCB’s make invites huge investments, but they also come with long-term profits. 

More environment-friendly: Smaller PCBs use fewer electrical components to achieve the same output. That means lower wastage. Most parts of a PCB can be recycled, so if a smaller PCB is being created with fewer components, then lesser recycling is required. 

What are the types of PCBs? 

Below is a list of common types of PCBs used in modern electronic devices.

Single-Sided PCB: Most basic type of PCB with only one layer of conductive material like Copper upon a non-conductive material.

Double-Sided PCB: These types of PCB have two layers of conductive material (e.g., Copper) on both sides of non-conductive material.

Multi-layer PCB: These PCBs will have three or more layers of conductive materials (like Copper), and non-conductive materials will separate various levels. They can fabricate more than 40 layers, but commonly available ones are generally 4,6, or 8-layer ones.

Rigid PCB: As the name suggests, PCBs base material is a solid material that offers the board the required stability and rigidity.

Flexible PCB: Similarly, all flexible PCBs are made of flexible board material to suit a particular working condition and design restrictions within a product.

Rigid-Flex PCB: This kind of PCB offers both rigidity and flexibility to be used as a circuit board. These are built for precision devices like medical and military equipment.

High-Frequency PCB: These PCBs are made in a range of 500 MHz – 2 GHz. These are majorly used in the telecommunications industry.

High-Density Interconnect PCB: High-Density PCBs use modern precision-based manufacturing technology to pack more functionalities within a small space. 

What are the basics of PCB Design? 

Why is it important to get the PCB design accurate and right? Because with each revision or addition to the existing PCB design, the project gets derailed from its track. Eventually, ending exceeding the budget and timeline. 

That’s why working with the right experts from the beginning is essential to get PCB design right. So, here are the 10 steps that help you design a cost-effective PCB that is efficient:

Step 1: Understand electrical parameters

Before starting your PCB design, you must understand electrical parameters, current maximums, signal types, voltages, capacitance limitations, shielding considerations, detailed net wire listing, etc.

Step 2: Generating schematic

Creating a schematic means designing PCB’s purpose and function electrically. This step still needs to enter a mechanical representation.

Step 3: Use the schematic capture tool to create a PCB layout

The next step involves using software platforms like Altium, Allegro, and others to show exactly how the board will operate once you place all the components. Once the schematic is ready, mechanical engineers load the design and determine how it will fit the targeted device.

Step 4: Design a PCB stackup

At this stage, a stackup helps mechanical engineers design and fit PCB into a device as impedance dictates how much and how quickly current could pass through a trace.

Step 5: Define design rules and requirements

IPC dictates all the rules, requirements, and standards for PCB. So while designing the PCB, it’s essential to consider them.

Step 6: Place your components correctly 

Every PCB provider will have a data sheet that tells them where each component is better suited. Therefore, a discussion between the customer and PCB provider is crucial during PCB design.

Step 7: Insert drill holes

This step deals with components and connections used to drill holes.

Step 8: Route the traces

After drilling is complete, it’s time to route the traces or connect path segments.

Step 9: Add labels and identifiers

The second last step in designing PCB involves adding labels, markings, identifiers, and reference designators, if any, to the PCB layout.

Step 10: Generate the final design or layout file

The final step involves generating the final design or layout file, which contains every piece of information you will need while designing a PCB. 

Conclusion

Modern devices are continuously upgraded, lighter and smaller to save space and achieve higher efficiency. PCB is the heart of all electronic devices! The product itself will only be efficient if it makes it efficient and its functionalities. This article has helped you immensely in getting started with PCB Design. Keep exploring the topic in depth to continue your journey in this great domain. 

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