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A Beginner Needs To Know About Prototype Printed Circuit Boards

- Sep 28, 2018 -

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What are they used for?

As they route signals and power through electronic devices, they provide mechanical and electrical connections in many everyday objects. This includes computers, electronic toys, flashlights, e-readers, you name it.

What is the structure of a circuit board?

The most simple printed circuit boards are one sided and have copper tracks that interconnect on only one surface. These are known as 1 layer PCBs. But you can also find double-sided and multi-layered PCBs that have conductive paths on all sides. If you’re having trouble forming a mental image, picture lasagna.

The compositions of prototype printed circuit boards are similar to lasagna in that there can be many layers. Simply put, from the bottom up there is substrate (FR4), copper, soldermask, with silkscreen at the top.
FR4: this base material is usually made out of fiberglass. It is what gives the PCB its rigidity and thickness.
Copper: this is laminated to the board using heat and an adhesive. It’s the basis for double-sided and multi-layered boards, which are determined via the number of copper plates used. It is specified by weight, and generally PCB designers use one or two ounces of copper per board.
Soldermask: this layer insulates the copper traces from coming in contact with other metal while also preventing solder jumpers.
Silkscreen: as the final layer, the silkscreen adds numbers and letters to the PCB to allow better assembly. Any ink color can be used, but white is a popular choice.

How are prototype circuit boards manufactured?

There are two kinds of construction processes to fabricate prototype printed circuit boards, through-hole and surface mount technologies.

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