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|A printed circuit board, or PCB, is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, or traces, etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. It is also referred to as printed wiring board (PWB) or etched wiring board. A PCB populated with electronic components is a printed circuit assembly (PCA), also known as a printed circuit board assembly
PCBs are rugged, inexpensive, and can be highly reliable. They require much more layout effort and higher initial cost than either wire-wrapped or point-to-point constructed circuits, but are much cheaper and faster for high-volume production. Much of the electronics industry's PCB design, assembly, and quality control needs are set by standards that are published by the IPC organization.
* Schematic capture or schematic entry is done through an EDA tool.
* Card dimensions and template are decided based on required circuitry and case of the PCB. Determine the fixed components and heat sinks if required.
* Deciding stack layers of the PCB. 4 to 12 layers or more depending on design complexity. Ground plane and Power plane are decided. Signal planes where signals are routed are in top layer as well as internal layers.
* Line impedance determination using dielectric layer thickness, routing copper thickness and trace-width. Trace separation also taken into account in case of differential signals.
Microstrip, stripline or dual stripline can be used to route signals.
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* Placement of the components. Thermal considerations and geometry are taken into account. Vias and lands are marked.
* Routing the signal trace. For optimal EMI performance high frequency signals are routed in internal layers between power or ground planes as power plane behaves as ground for AC.
* Gerber File generation for manufacturing.
Originally, every electronic component had wire leads, and the PCB had holes drilled for each wire of each component. The components' leads were then passed through the holes and soldered to the PCB trace. This method of assembly is called through-hole construction. In 1949, Moe Abramson and Stanislaus F. Danko of the United States Army Signal Corps developed the
Auto-Sembly process in which component leads were inserted into a copper foil interconnection pattern and dip soldered. With the development of board lamination and etching techniques, this concept evolved into the standard printed circuit board fabrication process in use today. Soldering could be done automatically by passing the board over a ripple, or wave, of molten solder in a wave-soldering machine. However, the wires and holes are wasteful since drilling holes is expensive and the protruding wires are merely cut off.
In recent years, the use of surface mount parts has gained popularity as the demand for smaller electronics packaging and greater functionality has grown.