Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing

Written by Adam Blau
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As anyone who has created an electronic device can tell you, there are few things more satisfying and thrilling than creating your own fully-functional machine from scratch. There is something about flipping on a power switch and hearing your creation come to life that makes you understand the excitement once held by Franklin or Edison. Inventors and engineers achieve this thrill simply by configuring small components around their field of play: the printed circuit board.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are named as such because the connective, conductive pathways are literally imprinted onto the board's surface. Pieces that might have otherwise been connected to one another with external wires are instead soldered onto a board that already contains the layout for the connective pathways. Current flow occurs in metal pathways directly on the board's surface, rather than through external wires.

Manufacturing Facilities for Printed Circuit Boards

In order to make these printed circuit boards, a fabrication plant must receive schematic designs from an engineer. These schematics are usually created in a computer-aided design (CAD) application. Once the designs are transferred to the board in a fairly complex process, the conductive pathways are imprinted and the board becomes a functional home for electronic components like capacitors and transistors.

Uniformity among CAD software formats has made it possible for PCB manufacturers to fabricate small amounts of printed circuit boards for a relatively low cost. The printed circuit board manufacturers will load the schematics into their machines, which will in turn press the boards out quickly and efficiently. Because of the automated nature of the process, it is possible for PCB manufacturers to create a few simple prototype boards at a completely affordable price to most designers.

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