Guide, PCB Manufacturing

PCB Types: Exploring the Various Types of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)

PCB types

Fortunately and unfortunately, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are the silent pillars of the current world of electronic devices. These multi-layered circuits combine the layers of conductive and isolated materials that are necessary for the operation of all sorts of things starting from the gadgets in your home to the industrial equipment, as well as for developing medical technologies. But wait there is something you should know, not all PCBs are the same. The current printed circuit boards are manufactured in different types, materials, various other characteristics that make each of them suitable for certain applications. 

In this article, you will be provided with information on various types of PCBs, the kind of characteristics that each has, as well as their applicability.

1. Single-sided PCBs

Single-sided PCBs are the simplest of all types of PCBs that can be manufactured. They comprise of single-layer tracks, normally of copper, disposed on one side of the board only. On one side, components are mounted and on the other side, there are conductive traces that connect each other.

Characteristics:

  • It has components on only one side.

It has generally low production costs as it involves a few steps in the designing as well as in the manufacturing phase.

Advantages:

  • It is affordable and relatively simple to manufacture.
  • It is applicable in low-density and simple circuits only hence it is not suitable for complex designs.
  • It is suitable for applications where large numbers of items are being produced which are not complex.

Applications:

  • Calculators and small remote controls are manufactured for electronic products.
  • Power supplies.
  • Small appliances and basic sensor technology.

Single-sided PCBs are the beginner’s board to most people who are learning electronics. However, their advantage is the simplicity of their design making them suitable in learning how to layout and realize PCBs.

2. Double-sided PCBs

In contrast to single layers, double-sided PCBs have copper layers on the top and bottom of the board. Both sides of the board allow hardware components to be placed on, while the interaction between the two sides follows via holes, which are drilled through the board. Double sided PCB is one of the most widely used PCB board types.

Characteristics:

  • Two layers of the conductive material having the same size and shape are used for the conduction of current in the circuit.
  • It has components on both sides of the PCBs.
  • Holes or vias connect the top and bottom layers of this type of circuit.

Advantages:

  1. Compared to single-sided PCBs, it has higher circuit density in the same area.
  2. It has more design flexibility.
  3. It can handle more complex designs than single-layer PCBs

Applications:

  1. Industrial controls.
  2. Power monitoring systems.
  3. LED lighting.

Double-sided PCBs are slightly more complex than single-sided PCB types and are more capable of handling complex designs but they are somewhat easier to produce than multi-layered PCBs.

3. Multilayer PCBs

Multi-way PCBs extend complexity to the next level where thin layers of conducting material are piled on top of each other with insulating material in between, either three or more layers are provided. Interlayer connections are possible through Vias. Thus, circuits can be designed more complex and in closer proximity. Multilayer PCBs is one of the more advanced PCB types.

Characteristics:

  1. There can be numerous layers. It is usually between 4, 6, 8, and even more.
  2. Two or more layers are put together in a manner in which they are laminated with insulating material between them
  3. Designing and manufacturing part of multilayer PCBs requires more complex processes than other parts.

Advantages:

  1. It has a high circuit density
  2. It is more compact, thus a space-saving design.
  3. It is suitable for most circuits which require high speed of operation

Applications:

  1. Computers, laptops, and mobile phones
  2. Advanced medical devices.
  3. Military and space electronics.

4. Rigid PCBs

Rigid PCBs are those that are made from rigid or stiff substrate material. They are robust and retain their form and this makes this PCB type ideal where the board should remain rigid and hold in one position. Comparing flex PCBs, rigid PCBs are more common in different types of printed circuit boards.

Rigid PCB

Characteristics:

  1. This type of printed circuit board is made of rigid materials like the FR4 for best performance.
  2. It is solid and inflexible.
  3. It often includes one or more layers for the data storage.

Advantages:

  1. It is durable and reliable.
  2. It has proven fruitful for handling complex and dense circuits.
  3. It is appropriate for applications where it is installed in a fixed position.

Applications:

  1. Desktop and Laptop Mother Boards.
  2. Hard drives.
  3. Telecommunication equipment.

Rigid PCBs are the core entity of most conventional electronic devices that give a firm foundation to the electric hardware required for synthesizing the entire junctions in great order.

5. Flexible PCBs

Another PCB type is flexible circuits that use flexible materials like polyimide. They can be flexed and inflexed in various ways in order to fit various shapes. They are mostly suitable in compact design shapes. Flexible PCB is among the special types of printed circuit boards.

Characteristics:

  1. It uses flexible materials for use in manufacturing.
  2. Its position can bend, twist, and fold.
  3. It can be purchased as a single coil type double coil type or in multiple coils as per the requirement.

Advantages:

  1. It has High flexibility and it is a lightweight model.
  2. It is Compact, and can neatly fit into complicated geometric forms easily.
  3. It is an ideal PCB type for applications where a PCB is likely to flex because of the fascinating design that allows that to happen.

Applications:

  1. Wearable electronics.
  2. Flexible solar cells.
  3. Medical devices (e.g., pacemakers, hearing aids)

6. High-Frequency PCBs

The high-frequency PCB is a type of circuit board used in those circuits that work at higher frequencies that are above 1 GHz. They are constructed from such materials that have stable dielectric constants and low signal loss which is important for high-speed and high-frequency operation. High-frequency PCBs are a special type of printed circuit board for microwave and RF applications.

Characteristics:

  1. It is used with processes like PTFE (Teflon) or RF-specialized laminated material.
  2. It has an operational design frequency range.

Advantages:

  1. The signal integrity at high frequencies is very high.
  2. Low electromagnetic interference.
  3. Applicable in use for transmitting high-speed data.

Applications:

  1. Wireless communication system operating at RF and Microwave frequency.
  2. Satellite communication.
  3. High-speed digital circuits.
  4. Radar systems.

High-frequency PCBs are PCB types indispensable in markets that require quick and accurate data transfer such as telecommunications and satellite communications.

7. Aluminum-Backed PCBs

Aluminum Core PCB

Metal core PCB or Aluminum PCB is another PCB type that makes use of metallic backing in order to increase thermal conductivity. Most of these PCB types are useful in applications where issues to do with heat dissipation are of the essence.

Characteristics:

  1. The common characteristic of this type of PCB is that it has superior heat dissipation properties.
  2. It can be one or two-sided depending on its complexity or how much has been conceptualized.

Advantages:

  1. Efficient heat management.
  2. This type of circuit board is ideal for high-power purposes providing better energy efficiency than the previous PCB types.

Applications:

  1. LED lighting.
  2. Power supplies.
  3. Automotive electronics.

Thus, aluminum-backed PCBs are types of printed circuit boards used for high-power and heat applications like LED lighting and automotive applications where the dissipation of heat is paramount.

8. HDI PCBs

HDI means High Density Interconnect and these PCB board types are different from other PCBs,by the fact that they have a higher density of wiring per unit volume. This PCB type incorporates thinner line widths, narrower spaces, and the use of smallest vias along with a higher density of connection pad. HDI PCBs is one of the most difficulty types of printed circuit board.

HDI PCB Board

Characteristics:

  1. It has high wiring density.
  2. It uses micro vias and blind/buried vias.
  3. Due to the limited space, the approaching structures are rather compact and highly integrated.

Advantages:

  1. This type of printed circuit board has more optimized performance and indeed dependability.
  2. It can enable more parts in the same amount of volume.
  3. It is Perfect for use in small gadgets, and smaller electronic apparatus.

Applications:

  1. Smartphones and tablets.
  2. Wearable technology.
  3. Advanced computing systems.

HDI PCBs are PCB types widely used in today’s electronics market where performance and compactness of the PCB are critical requirements.

Conclusion

As printed circuit boards loop in almost every electronic device, their world is very wide, and ever-changing as well. When developed, each type of printed circuit board has its advantages depending on the requirements of the devices it will be used in ranging from single-sided PCBs to high-density interconnect PCBs. It is of the essence for any electronics designer and manufacturer to understand the different PCB board types and how they are used. Hence the development of technology will always require specialized PCBs which in return will lead to the development of even more superior devices. In today’s world, it is hard to find an industry where PCBs do not play a crucial role starting from consumer electronics and ending with medical devices, automotive systems, aerospace applications, and more.

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