What is a PCB – working, types and applications

What is a PCB – working, types and applications

You may have heard a lot of people talking about PCB but do you really know what is a PCB? A PCB, or Printed Circuit Board, is used in many electronic devices. It is essentially a piece of fiberglass or other insulating material with copper traces laminated on it. In this article, we’ll learn what is a PCB in detail, what it does and its different types.

Table of Contents

What is a PCB?

What is a PCB

Before getting in detail of PCB, let’s first start with what is a PCB. It is a board made of plastic or other insulating material on which electronic components are mounted. The traces on a PCB allow the electric current to flow between the components, and they are usually arranged in a grid pattern. It can be single-sided (one layer), double-sided (two layers), or multi-layered (more than two layers).

What does a PCB do?

A Printed Circuit Board (PCB) interconnects electric components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched onto one or more thin sheets of copper laminated onto a non-conductive substrate.
The main functions of PCB in electric components are:
1) To provide mechanical support and guidance for the components
2) To act as a bridge between the component leads and the external connector pins
3) To carry current from one component to another
4) To protect the components from short circuits and electrical interference

What material is PCB?

After learning what is a PCB and what it does, the most important thing is understanding material of a PCB. Although all PCBs have non-substrate materials and layers of copper circuitry, different types of businesses use different types of materials for manufacturing. More layers mean more components can be integrated into the device. Different PCBs with different layers may contain different material.

How many types of PCBs are there?

To fully understand what is a PCB, you should know its different types. Following are some of its different types:

Single sided PCB

Single-Sided PCB

Single sided PCBs are typically less expensive and easier to manufacture than multi-layer PCBs, but they also have lower performance and can be more susceptible to damage. They are made up of a single layer of conductive material.

Multi-layer PCB

A multilayer PCB is a printed circuit board with multiple layers of circuitry. Each layer is sandwiched between two insulating sheets (usually made from epoxy or fiberglass) and the entire stack is then bonded together under heat and pressure. They’re also more reliable than single-layer PCBs because if one layer fails, the others still function.

Rigid PCB


Rigid PCBs use a plastic or metal core. They are often used in electrical equipment and instruments because they are more durable than traditional circuit boards and can withstand more wear and tear.

Flex PCB

A flex PCB is a printed circuit board that has been designed to be flexible. This type of PCB is typically used in applications where the board will be subjected to physical stress, such as in electronic devices that are commonly bent or curved, such as cell phones and laptop computers.

Rigid-flex PCB

rigid flex PCB

Rigid-flex PCBs have both rigid and flexible portions. The rigid portions are typically used for the heavier or heat-sensitive components, while the flexible portions are used for the more delicate or lightweight components.

What are the advantages of PCB?

Till now you must have understood what is a PCB along with its different types. A few prominent advantages of PCBs include:

Thermal conductivity
PCBs have a higher thermal conductivity than most plastics, so they are able to dissipate heat more efficiently.

Low flammability
PCBs are not flammable, which makes them safer to use in electrical equipment.

High dielectric strength
PCBs have a high dielectric strength, which means they can withstand high voltages without breaking down.

Applications of PCBs

applications of PCBs

People who know what is a PCB, also know that it has a vast number of applications, as it is useful in areas where both electrical and thermal insulation is required. Some of the common ones include:
1. Automotive applications
a. engine control
b. infotainment
c. safety systems

2. Consumer electronics
a. desktop computers
b. laptops
c. servers

3. Telecommunications industry
a. cell phones
b. routers
c. switches

4. Aerospace applications
a. grids
b. temperature sensors
c. control tower systems

5. Medical settings
a. cardiovascular field
b. heart-related
c. pacemakers

6. Defense applications
a. military navigation systems
b. guidance and control apparatuses
c. electronic warfare tools
d. surveillance devices.

How to make a PCB?

How to make a PCB

It is a lot easier to make a PCB, when you understand what is a PCB and how it works. Following are some popular ways to make a PCB:

1. Laser printing – this is the most common method and involves printing the layout of the PCB onto a Photosensitive resist which is then developed and used as a mask for etching the copper traces onto a copper-clad substrate.

2. Inkjet printing – very similar to laser printing but instead of using a laser, an inkjet printer is used to deposit the ink onto the resist.

3. Chemical deposition – usually used for making multilayer PCBs, it involves depositing thin films of conductive material onto a substrate and then etching away the unwanted portions.

4. Milling – this involves using a CNC machine to route out the layout on the PCB from a pre-programmed design file.

5. Soldering – after all components are in place, solder is used to make electrical connections between them, which completes the PCB.

How to choose a PCB manufacturer?

Some of the most important factors to consider, while choosing a PCB manufacturer include quality, price, delivery time, and customer service.

Quality is essential when choosing a PCB manufacturer. You should always ask for samples to test the quality of the boards before placing an order. If you know what is a PCB and different materials used in it, it’ll be easier for you to assess the build-quality.

Price is another important factor to consider. PCB manufacturers vary greatly in price, so it’s important to shop around and compare prices before making a decision.

Delivery time is also important, especially if your project is time-sensitive. Make sure to ask the manufacturer how long it will take them to produce your boards and how long it will take them to ship them to you.

PCB means printed circuit board. It is a board made of plastic or other insulating material on which electronic components are mounted. The traces on a PCB allow the electric current to flow between the components, and they are usually arranged in a grid pattern.

  • Single sided PCB
  • Multi-layer PCB
  • Rigid PCB
  • Flex PCB
  • Rigid-flex PCB

1. Automotive applications

2. Consumer electronics

3. Telecommunications industry

4. Aerospace applications

5. Medical settings

6. Defense applications


We have briefly discussed in this article, what is a PCB, how it works, and its different types. They are found in almost every type of electronic device today including cell phones, DVDs and Blu-ray players, computers, GPS devices, LED lights, digital cameras and many more. By understanding how they work and what materials they are made from you can choose the right one for your next project.

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