Although, like most people, you probably aren’t aware of all the PCBs around you in your daily life, they are everywhere. From the smartphones in our pockets to the appliances in our kitchens, printed circuit boards underpin the majority of the electronics we encounter day to day.
PCBs are the foundation of modern electronics and, like modern electronics, they are incredibly varied and versatile in their nature. Now that electronics are a fundamental part of just about every industry, PCBs are more important than ever before. They are also becoming more popular among hardware hackers and electronics hobbyists.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common applications for PCBs today. It would take far too long to discuss in detail all the various varieties of PCBs that exist, but we can go over the most prominent and important examples.
Electronics have become increasingly important to the medical industry. Medical devices are much more advanced and capable than they used to be and as such are now filling in a greater number of roles. As these medical devices continue to become smaller and more advanced, they are able to achieve more.
Printed circuit boards are essential for producing the kind of miniaturized devices that are becoming increasingly important for the medical industry. The kind of PCBs that are used in medical devices are much more specialized than most. This makes sense when you consider how specialized the functions of medical devices are when compared to other types of electronics.
As you would expect, medical PCBs need to be manufactured to a higher standard than most PCBs. Unlike most other PCBs, those inside medical devices may well end up inside a human body. This means that repairing them is not easy or straightforward.
Consumer electronics account for the majority of PCBs that are produced today. Just about every consumer electronic device that you could think of will be built on the solid foundation of a PCB circuit, some more specialized than others.
Consumer electronics are designed to be mass-produced in a way that medical devices usually aren’t. As a result, consumer electronic PCBs need to comply with strict industry and manufacturing standards, while being produced in a low-cost high-volume manner. Various quality-control methods are used to ensure that PCBs in consumer electronics will work.
You would be hard-pressed to name an industry today that doesn’t make extensive use of electronics. As industrial automation has become more common, the need for more specialised PCBs has increased substantially. PCBs in an industrial setting need to be able to withstand all the physical stresses that come from being part of industrial machinery. Therefore, industrial PCBs are often designed to be more resilient to chemicals, vibrations and other physical pressures.
Printed circuit boards underpin the majority of modern electronics in just about any setting. If you want to understand how modern electronics work and are designed and produced, learning about PCBs will give you the best possible vantage point for understanding the rest of the landscape.