What Is a Printed Circuit Board, And How Can It Be Used For
PCB (printed circuit board) can be used for many applications. With the development of network and communication technology, the application of pcb is more and more extensive. The application fields of pcb are industrial, medical, communication, etc.
In this article, we will discuss and explain different PCB examples and the types of PCBs. what are PCBs used for? types of PCB designs, and the function of the printed circuit boards in computers, microprocessors,
and microcontroller-oriented designs.
PCB applications and industries
When PCB is produced, it has a particular use case. This use case can be anywhere
from consumer electronics to industrial, aerospace, medical, gaming, and toys industry,
automotive and so much more.
When we send PCB for fabrication, we already know what does a PCB does. How it will be
used and for which purpose, and to which industry it belongs. The different sectors might
have different specifications and requirements, such as temperature, humidity, shelf life,
and others. Which will require a tailor-made design for every application.
Consumer electronics PCB
Consumers’ electronics mainly refer to products that we, the typical consumers, use in
daily life. it can be a light bulb, LCD screen, air purifier, laptop, and others … while we
I can’t see it clearly due to the form factor of the consumer product; each product holds
within itself a PCB, those electronic boards ensure the function of the application and its
long usage life.
laptops and computers PCB usually used for processing and performing multiple tasks,
such PCBs will come with extra components such as GPU, CPU, Memory, HDD and
more, those are all electronic components that are mounted to or connected directly to
the PCB board, a PCB in consumer laptop / PC is referred to as “motherboard”, so
although the different name, the motherboard is also one of many types of PCB or
assembled PCB (PCBA).
Consumer applications usually don’t require the end customer to know how to use
a printed circuit board or what are PCBs used for as the board comes in a finished
product design suitable and functional according to the end customer’s needs, those
electronics PCB usually doesn’t have any high restrictions or requirements such as high
temperature or humidity or harsh environmental conditions, price is a very important
factor in enabling as many consumers as possible to afford the PCB board.
Some of the consumer applications PCB examples you might have seen include:
- Smart home appliances, light bulbs, and switches
- Scale measurement devices
- Personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones
- Microwaves, ovens, fridges, and other cooking appliances.
- Smartwatch and wearables
- TV, LCD, and another type of monitors.
Industrial, Agriculture, and IoT
Not all PCBs are born the same, while consumer electronics and PCBs cost less to
produce and require minimal tests such as temperature, radiation, humidity, etc …
Industrial, agriculture-related, and IoT applications, in general, require a series of tests
to ensure constant reliability and functionality over a long time.
In the intelligent manufacturing business, IoT and industrial applications are often used in
order to make the fabrication process more productive, PCBasic incorporates 15 years
of experience and different types of hardware to make the process easy, fast,
and low cost. One example would be an AI camera computer module that can
identify types of PCBs with images and, by doing so, identify flaws in the PCBA and SMT
production to send an alert and correct those faults before delivering the final
product to the customers.
In Agriculture applications, for example, some PCB electronic boards will be placed
outdoor for years, in such cases, components and PCB materials should be chosen
carefully to ensure minimal fault rate during the lifespan of the product.
Industrial electronic boards are usually more expensive but at the same time, more
reliable and suitable for work under harsh conditions, both indoors and outdoors, the
PCB electronic layers and thickness are designed to ensure clear signal in high
voltage and current conditions.
- Some agriculture and IoT applications include:
- Smart garden monitoring system
- Weather monitoring station
- Greenhouse monitoring and control
- Innovative waste and garbage collection, and much more …
Network and telecommunication
Popular PCB application is network and telecommunication, which can be used both in
consumer and industrial use cases, for example, consumers will most often use routers,
modems, repeaters, or access points to access the internet through the internet
service provider (ISP) while for industrial use it will be servers, NAS (network-attached
storage) box, and another type of industrial equipment.
All the examples above implement custom-made PCBs to serve a specific purpose
and application. The PCB systems come in small sizes for consumers and large bulky
packages which are often found in industrial use telecommunication devices. Some PCB
systems can be more complex and might require multiple PCBs stacked or connected
in one way or another.
Some of the network and communication PCB electronics includes:
- Network routers and switches
- Access points, modems, and repeaters
- Network-attached storage devices
- Servers and Internet service providers stations
If you were unfortunate to visit the hospital or a doctor under certain circumstances, you
might have encountered different types of devices, computers, and monitors that the
hospitals and doctors used to perform their job.
All those devices incorporate printed electronic boards inside or in short PCBs, the
electronic PCB enables the medical devices to save daily life, monitor patients 24/7 and
as you can imagine, a single fault in design can cost many people’s lives.
For that reason, medical industries and applications have the strict PCB design
requirements, and every design, when released to market, requires to perform dozen of
tests to ensure that it can accomplish what it was designed for.
Some examples of PCB electronic devices used in the medical industries:
- Cardiovascular pacemakers.
- MRIs and CTs.
- Heart support and monitoring equipment.
- AKG, and X-Ray machinery.
- Life support, Defibrillators, and other life-critical types of equipment.
a less popular industry to everyday consumers, but something with can’t ignore the
military industry, often when we would like to express how excellent a PCB design is or
how durable, long-lasting, and high quality the board is designed we could call it
“Military-grade” design that is to emphasize how great the design and the production of
the PCB electrical board is.
The electronic PCB inside military devices and applications is something to
look forward to, the chipset that is used often are confidential and the ability to source
the components can be given to permitted enterprises and manufacturers for a very
specific purpose and lane of distribution.
The Electronic PCB in military applications is durable, long-lasting, and designed to
withstand challenging conditions, such as air pressure and high-temperature changes.
Some of the applications that the military will use while producing PCB electronic board
- Uncrewed vehicles.
- Robotic and defense navigation systems.
- Communication and control systems.
- Mortars and artillery.
- Security and encryption-related equipment.
The automotive industry has been changing and developing in the past decades. We
used to drive simple cars when radio devices were considered Luxury, today, most of
the vehicles are powered by ultra-smart computers, and some of the vehicles such as Tesla’s
are fully electric.
As time goes, we see automotive applications become more popular and more innovative with
technologies such as Lidar, 5G, AI, and more incorporated in every bit of the car we
drive, today some vehicles even have a builtin autopilot mode enabling drivers to relax while
the care drives for them, all of this powered by, you guessed it, a PCB electrical board.
Those PCBs are designed for industrial-grade to ensure safety as a priority, a single
fault in-car computer system can cause a catastrophic disaster, by fabricating high-
quality PCBs with trusted components, we can ensure a safe ride on the way back
- Electronic PCB applications for the automotive industry include:
- Engine drive-related systems
- Temperature and humidity intelligent climate control
- Displays, speakers, and audio systems
- Anti-theft and alert
- Airbag safety control mechanism
- Ignition and car starting
- Obstacle detection alert systems and more …
Aerospace and space exploration
Last but not least industry that we will discuss today is the aerospace industry; we might
not be familiar with such name or its applications but the aerospace and space
The exploration industry serves us every single day. All the cellphones and
applications we’ve discussed above wouldn’t be possible without the satellites which
belong to the aerospace industry.
The electronic PCB and components in the aerospace industry and particularly in the
satellites that serve us daily belong to military and industrial grade applications
as those PCBs located in the space where radiation and temperature hit on different
levels than what we know and used to here on earth.
Some other applications are also related to planes and aircraft, navigation systems,
GPS and autopilot control serve us when we need to travel from place to place at
high speed. Did you know that the Boing 737 airplanes are made out of around 367,000
electronics parts? That almost sounds unbelievable, but every application
requires PCB electronics, indicating how crucial the process of PCB and PCBA
fabrication is for each industry.
Some of the applications that are used in the aerospace industry are:
- Radiation monitoring
- Thermal management and materials process monitoring
- flight controllers and autopilot systems
- GPS and, Nano SATs and satellites system
- Signal sensors monitoring
- Power grids, radio communication systems, and more …