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Printed circuit boards or PCBs are key components of electronic assemblies. Most people use them every day without even thinking about it, and they are vital to a wide variety of industries. PCBs have many applications, but we'll cover 10 of the most common printed circuit board uses.
What is a printed circuit board used for?
A PCB is a board that connects electronic components. They are an integral part of the electronic products we use in our daily lives in all walks of life. They are made of non-conductive materials and have wires, pads, and other features etched from copper sheets that electrically connect electronic components within the product. Components like capacitors and resistors are also soldered on some PCBs.
Today, PCBs are widely used in electronic products, and there are various types of PCBs. They can be single-sided, double-sided, or multi-layered. They can be rigid, flexible, or contain rigid and flexible components.
What are the common uses of PCBs?
Since PCBs are used in many different fields, they can be found almost anywhere, from small consumer devices to large machinery. Where are printed circuit boards used? Below are the 10 most common PCB applications in the industry.
1. Medical devices
As technology advances, the healthcare industry is using more and more PCBs, revealing new capabilities. PCBs play a role in devices used for diagnosis, monitoring, therapy, and more.
Special care must be taken to ensure reliability when producing medical PCBs, as proper functioning is critical to the health of the patient. In many cases, PCBs must also meet strict hygiene standards, especially those used for implants. Plates for implants and many other applications, such as emergency room monitors, must also be relatively small. Therefore, many medical PCBs are High-Density Interconnects or HDIs.
The medical field continues to develop more electronic uses. As technology advances and smaller, denser, and more reliable boards become possible, PCBs will play an increasingly important role in healthcare.
2. Light emitting diodes
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are an increasingly popular lighting technology used in both residential and commercial lighting and across numerous industries including automotive, medical, and computer technology. LEDs are favored for their high energy efficiency, long life, and compactness.
One of the roles that PCBs play in LED applications is to dissipate heat away from the bulb. High temperatures will reduce the average lifespan of LEDs. Therefore, PCBs used for LEDs are usually made of aluminum, which transfers heat better than other metals. This eliminates the need for an extra heat sink in the design, which means it can be made more compact.
LEDs are becoming more common in a variety of applications, which means that PCBs are likely to continue to play a larger role in lighting.
3. Consumer electronics
Smartphones, computers, and many other consumer products that people use every day require PCBs to function. As we add electronics to more products, PCBs have become an essential part of our daily lives.
Manufacturers are producing smaller and smaller smartphones and laptops with many advanced features that require small PCBs with lots of connections. PCBs for consumer electronics also require relatively low costs to keep the price of the final product low. Manufacturers also need reliable circuit boards because they need their products to function as intended in order to stay in business.
The use of PCBs in consumer products is certainly not slowing down. The percentage of Americans who own a smartphone is now 77% and growing. Many previously non-electronic devices are now also gaining advanced electronic capabilities and are part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
4. Industrial equipment
The uses of printed circuit boards in the industrial sector vary widely. Electronic components power many pieces of equipment in manufacturing and distribution centers and other types of industrial facilities.
PCBs used in industrial fields often require exceptionally high power and are durable enough to withstand the harsh conditions that exist in industrial facilities. PCBs may need to be able to withstand rough handling, vibrating machinery, extreme temperatures, or harsh chemicals.
To meet this need for durability, industrial PCBs can be made from durable metals or heat-resistant materials and are thicker than other kinds of PCBs. Industrial PCB assembly services may include through-hole technology for improved durability.
As robotics, industrial IoT technology, and other types of advanced technologies become more commonplace, new uses for PCBs have emerged in the industrial sector.
5. Auto parts
Automakers are using more and more electronic components in their vehicles. Previously, PCBs were only used for things like windshield wipers and headlight switches, but today they have many advanced features that make driving safer and easier.
Depending on which part of the car the PCB is used in, it may need to be able to withstand extreme temperatures or vibrations. Equally important, if it comes to the car's safety features, they must operate reliably. Because of these challenges, manufacturers may use high-temperature laminates, aluminum or copper substrates, or through-hole mounted components. They also use rigid-flex PCBs due to their ability to withstand vibrations.
These sensors are part of what enables the car to drive itself. Fully self-driving cars are expected to become commonplace in the future, which is why a lot of printed circuit boards are used.
6. Aerospace parts
Electronics used in aerospace applications have similar requirements to the automotive sector, but aerospace PCBs may be exposed to harsher conditions. PCBs are used in a variety of aerospace equipment, including aircraft, space shuttles, satellites, and radio communication systems.
Aerospace PCB manufacturing requires the use of materials that can withstand large amounts of vibration, extreme temperatures, and other harsh conditions. Some aerospace PCBs even need to be able to operate in outer space and have to be very durable. Panels made from lightweight materials such as aluminum can also be used in aerospace. Anodized aluminum can be used to increase oxidation resistance.
7. Offshore applications
Various ships and systems rely on PCBs to function. This includes small boats, large cargo ships, submarines, communication systems, and navigation equipment.
PCBs used in marine applications must also be able to withstand harsh conditions. Manufacturers of offshore PCBs emphasize reliability, as the proper functioning of electronic equipment is critical to the safety of crew and passengers.
8. Security equipment
Whether in homes, businesses, or government buildings, many aspects of security systems rely on PCBs. They play more roles in our safety and security than many realize.
The ideal type of PCB depends on its specific application, but all PCBs used in security applications must be reliable because these products must always perform as intended to be effective. Some safety equipment may be used outdoors and a PCB that can withstand the outdoor environment should be used.
PCBs play a vital role in many different types of security devices, especially as more and more of these products gain the ability to connect to the Internet.
9. Telecommunications equipment
PCBs are a critical part of the telecommunications industry. They're essential for consumer devices like smartphones, but they're essential for the infrastructure that makes those devices work.
The telecommunications industry uses a wide variety of PCBs due to the many different types of equipment used in the industry. Some equipment needs to be placed in a stable indoor environment, while some infrastructure must withstand outdoor environments including storms and extreme temperatures.
The telecommunications industry is constantly evolving, and so are the PCBs used in the industry. As we generate and transmit more data, powerful PCBs will become increasingly important for communication.
10. Military and defense applications
The military uses PCBs in a variety of applications, including communications equipment, computers, vehicles, firearms, and more.
PCBs used in military applications must be very reliable and durable. They may face extreme conditions and may play a role in national security. The military uses materials such as high-temperature laminates, aluminum, and copper because of their ability to withstand harsh conditions such as high temperatures. Anodized aluminum can be used due to its oxidation resistance. Some military printed circuit board applications may also benefit from the enhanced reliability of through-hole technology.
The military is often at the forefront of technology, so some of the most advanced uses of PCBs are for military and defense applications. The military uses of PCBs vary widely.
The top ten applications of PCB have been introduced above. If you want to know more or buy customized PCB boards, please contact us.
Singo Tech Co. Ltd. can provide you with professional PCB manufacturing solutions, we have been mainly engaged in PCB assembly and OEM/ODM electronic manufacturing services since 2006. Our products involve home appliances, digital products, industrial control, and medical equipment. After years of hard work, we have established long-term cooperative relationships with some well-known international companies.