Everyone has seen PCBs (or printed circuit boards) at some point. The iconic green boards go hand in hand with technology design and breakthrough. However, they have much larger applications in modern life than you might originally think. Here is why PCBs are so important to modern life.
They are Everywhere
Pick up any piece of technological equipment and chances are that it will have a PCB inside. From our smartphones to our washing machines, PCBs are everywhere. Even cars have them; as more and more people buy cars with smart technology like auto-parking and Wi-Fi, more PCBs will be making their way under the bonnet.
Even unlikely devices may have some sort of PCB. Think about your children’s toys. If they can make a noise or flash some sort of light, they may have a PCB inside. It isn’t just the big important things which have a circuit board. The little things which bring us joy have them too. With the advent of PCB design tools such as Altium who have developed Altium Designer for PCB design, more and more amateurs are having a go at creating their own PCBs and their own devices too. Anything you can think of, and it is all thanks to the inclusion of the PCB.
They Make the Devices Work
They aren’t just another component; they are often the glue that holds everything together to make the device actually work. All the little components like resistors and LEDs are attached to the PCB and all the connections run through it. While it is entirely possible to connect the circuit together without a board, it would not be very strong and the connections could be easily broken. Therefore, the PCB helps to strengthen the circuit as a whole.
They Protect Their Components
Believe it or not, a PCB will generate a form of electromagnetic shielding which will protect its components and cables. Damage caused by electromagnetic frequencies can seriously disrupt a device. By allowing the PCB to protect itself, you are in turn prolonging the life of your device. If we did not have some sort of system to protect our technology from EMF damage, we would have to replace them far more frequently.
They are Heat Conductors
Electrical energy can cause a lot of heat, which is not good for technology. Everyone knows not to let phones and laptops overheat but they rarely think of other things like your microwave or speakers. PCBs are lined with copper, a metal, them excellent heat conductors. The last thing you want is for heat to get trapped in your electrical components. If the components of your PCB or the PCB itself cannot handle the heat, you risk cracking and damage to both. A good PCB design is one which can handle its heat generating components and deal with the heat as it is made.
As you can see, PCBs are incredibly important components. If we did not have these handy little squares of copper and plastic, the world would be a very different place today.