If you are not engaged in the world of electronics, it is likely that you have never even heard of printed circuit boards or PCBs. Nevertheless, even if you might not be able to appreciate its creation or construction, its value in the technological industry cannot be denied.
Not only can a printed circuit board be used in almost every piece of technology, the actual PCB assembly process itself is considered a marvel in modern electronic parts production. The main board itself is composed of a fabricated plastic with embedded copper tracks. The copper tracks function as the guide for the placement of the external components. In order to strengthen the bond between the board and its individual components, it is often subjected to extreme heat and soldered into place.
Although the printed circuit board is still unmatched in both quality and convenience in terms of PCB assembly, it still has its own share of both pros and cons.
Listed below are a few of the things that you should consider when manufacturing and using printed circuit boards.
Advantages of Printed Circuit Boards
Unlike the manually constructed bread board, the PCB assembly process ensures that all components are permanently fixed onto the printed circuit board. Likewise, the streamlined electronic process eliminates the need for complex and cumbersome wiring systems. The simple design makes it easier for users to maintain and manipulate the boards depending on their needs.
Minimized short circuits
Printed circuit boards are specifically designed to lessen the chances of shorts and wiring issues. Since the copper tracks are already embedded into the board during the PCB assembly process, there will be no chances of misaligning or misplacing the wires.
Additionally, the fact that the entire PCB assembly process is conducted by a computer means that there will be very little room for error. The computer can check the board throughout the entire design process and correct any errors that it finds before it even reaches the end of the production line. Therefore, you will be hard pressed to find any short circuits in a modern printed circuit board.
Since the printed circuit boards all undergo a strict inspection throughout the entire production process, there is very little need for a final inspection. Simple testing can be conducted to demonstrate the product, but you will no longer need to worry about poorly designed components or sudden short circuits. The fully automated procedure considerably increases the chances of a working circuit board compared to a man-made bread board.
Cost effective mass production
As long as you have a finished working design, it is already possible to create several printed circuit boards in a single production run. After all, you will only need to load the design files onto the computer and wait for it to print and etch the design onto the copper board. Since you will hardly need any manpower, you can save a considerable amount even if you choose to mass produce your boards.
Unlimited reproduction capabilities
Once a single schematic design or layout is saved on the computer, you can reuse and reproduce it as many times as you want. This makes it ideal for creating several batches of multiple, identical boards. This technological convenience will save you both time and money in the long run.
The Disadvantage of Printed Circuit Boards
Although printed circuit boards undoubtedly have a number of advantages over the competition, it still has its own fair share of disadvantages. Though these disadvantages should not deter you from choosing to invest in printed circuit boards, they are things that you should take into consideration.
Complicated repair process
Although the assembly and production process guarantees a working finished product, it is unfortunately difficult to repair a printed circuit board once it has been damaged. Though it is strong enough to handle daily wear and tear, it will eventually breakdown with constant use.
While manually made bread boards are less sturdy and more prone to short circuits, the removable individual components makes them much easier to repair. After all, if a single component breaks down, you will only need to replace that single part. Conversely, you will need to replace the entire board once any component is damaged since each part is soldered into place.
Production process causes environmental degradation
Since the entire production process heavily relies on the use of both technology and toxic chemicals, it is a given that certain environmental concerns will arise. Since the workers who make bread boards cannot be exposed to toxic chemicals, the boards themselves are also less harmful to the environment. In this regard, manually made bread boards are much more eco-friendly compared to their printed counterparts.
Fixed and specific use
Unfortunately, a printed circuit board can only perform the single task that it was designed to do. It cannot be reprogrammed or updated after it is produced. If you need to test a different circuit or design, you will need to reprint another board.
In the end, it will be up to you to decide whether a printed circuit board or another type of board will suit your needs. The important thing is to know what each board is capable of and to weigh those pros and cons to come up with the best choice.