PCB applications – knowledge base

What are the applications of printed circuit boards?

PCB is a board that connects electronic components. They are part of the electronic products we use in our daily lives. They are made of non-conductive materials and have wires, pads and other functional components etched from copper sheets, which can be electrically connected to the electronic components in the product. Components such as capacitors and resistors are also soldered on some PCBs.

Nowadays, PCBs are widely used in electronic products, and there are many 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 applications of PCB?

Since PCBs are used in many different fields, they can be found almost anywhere from small consumer devices to large machinery. Where are the printed circuit boards used? The following are the 10 most common PCB applications in the industry.

1. Medical equipment

As technology advances, the healthcare industry is using more and more PCBs, revealing new features. PCBs play a role in equipment used for diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, etc.

Special care must be taken to ensure reliability when producing medical PCBs because proper functions are essential to the health of patients. In many cases, PCBs must also meet strict hygiene standards, especially those used for implants. The boards used 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.

PCB is used in medical equipment, such as:

  • Medical imaging systems: CT, CAT, and ultrasound scanners often use PCBs, and computers that compile and analyze these images also use PCBs.
  • Monitors: Heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose monitors, and more devices that rely on electronic components can get accurate readings.
  • Infusion pumps: Infusion pumps (such as insulin and patient-controlled analgesia pumps) can deliver precise amounts of liquid to patients. PCB helps ensure that these products operate reliably and accurately.
  • Internal equipment: Pacemakers and other equipment used internally require a small PCB to function.

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. LED

Light-emitting diode (LED) is an increasingly popular lighting technology used in residential and commercial lighting, and it is used in many industries such as automotive, medical, and computer technology. LEDs are favored for their high energy efficiency, long life, and compactness.

One of the roles that PCB plays in LED applications is to dissipate heat from the bulb. The high temperature will reduce the average life of the LED. Therefore, PCBs used for LEDs are usually made of aluminum, which can transfer heat better than other metals. This eliminates the need for an additional heat sink in the design, which means it can become more compact.

You can find LED PCB in the following locations:

  • Residential lighting: LED lighting including smart bulbs can help homeowners illuminate their houses more effectively.
  • Storefront lighting: Companies can use LEDs to sign and illuminate the store.
  • Car display: LED PCB may be used for dashboard indicators, headlights, brake lights, etc.
  • Computer monitor: LED PCB powers many indicator lights and monitors on laptops and desktop computers.
  • Medical lighting: LED provides strong light and almost no heat, making it an ideal choice for medical applications, especially those related to surgery and emergency medicine.

LEDs are becoming more and more common in various applications, which means that PCBs may continue to play a more important 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 electronic products to more products, PCBs have become an important part of our daily lives.

Manufacturers are producing smaller and smaller smartphones and laptops with many advanced features that require small PCBs with a large number of connections. PCBs used in consumer electronic products also require relatively low costs to keep the final product prices low. Manufacturers also need reliable circuit boards because they need their products to perform their intended functions in order to continue the business.

A large number of consumer products use PCBs, including:

  • Communication equipment: Smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, radios, and other communication products require PCBs to function.
  • Computer: A computer used for personal and corporate functional PCBs.
  • Entertainment system: Entertainment-related products (such as TVs, stereos, and video game consoles) all rely on PCBs.
  • Household appliances: Many household appliances also have electronic components and PCBs, including refrigerators, microwave ovens, and coffee makers.

The use of PCBs in consumer products will certainly not slow down. The proportion of Americans who own a smartphone is now 77%, and it is still growing. Many previously non-electronic devices have now also acquired advanced electronic functions and have become part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

4. Industrial equipment

The use of printed circuit boards in the industrial sector varies greatly. Electronic components power many types of equipment in manufacturing and distribution centers and other types of industrial facilities.

PCBs used in the industrial field usually require extremely high power and are durable enough to withstand the harsh conditions that exist in industrial facilities. PCBs may require rough handling, machinery that resists vibration, extreme temperatures, or harsh chemicals. In order to meet this need for durability, industrial PCBs can be made of durable metals or heat-resistant materials, and are thicker than other types of PCBs. Industrial PCB assembly services may include through-hole technology to improve durability.

Some industrial applications of PCB include:

  • Manufacturing equipment: PCB-based electronic power drills and presses for manufacturing.
  • Power supply equipment: PCBs are used for components that supply power to various types of industrial equipment. The power equipment includes DC to AC power inverters, solar cogeneration equipment, etc.
  • Measuring equipment: PCB usually powers equipment that measures and controls pressure, temperature, and other factors.

With robotics, industrial Internet of Things technology, and other types of advanced technologies becoming more and more common, new uses of PCBs have emerged in the industrial field.

5. Automotive 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 now they have many advanced features that make driving safer and easier.

Depending on which part of the car the PCB is used for, it may need to be able to withstand extreme temperatures or vibrations. It is also important that if the safety functions of the car are involved, they must operate reliably. Because of these challenges, manufacturers may use high-temperature laminates, aluminum or copper substrates, or through-hole mounting components. Because of their ability to withstand vibration, they also use rigid-flex PCBs.

Today, you can find PCBs in auto parts, such as:

  • Entertainment and navigation system: Integrated navigation and entertainment stereo systems and systems rely on PCB.
  • Control system: Many systems that control the basic functions of the car rely on electronic equipment powered by the PCB. These include engine management systems and fuel regulators.
  • Sensors: With the development of automobiles, manufacturers are integrating more and more sensors. These sensors can monitor blind spots and warn drivers of nearby objects. The PCB is also necessary for a system that enables cars to park automatically in parallel.
  • These sensors are part of enabling the car to drive autonomously. Fully autonomous vehicles are expected to become common in the future, which is why a large number of printed circuit boards are used.

6. Aerospace parts

Electronic products used in aerospace applications have similar requirements to those in the automotive sector, but aerospace PCBs may be exposed to more severe conditions. PCBs can be used in various aerospace equipment, including airplanes, space shuttles, satellites, and radio communication systems.

Aerospace PCB manufacturing requires the use of materials that can withstand a lot of vibration, extreme temperatures, and other harsh conditions. Certain aviation PCBs even need to be able to operate in outer space and must be very durable. Plates made of lightweight materials such as aluminum can also be used in aerospace. Anodized aluminum can be used to increase oxidation resistance.

Some uses of PCBs in the aerospace industry include:

  • Power supply: PCB is a key component in equipment that powers various aircraft, control towers, satellites, and other systems.
  • Monitoring equipment: Pilots use various monitoring equipment (including accelerometers and pressure sensors) to monitor the functions of the aircraft. These monitors usually use PCBs.
  • Communication equipment: Communication with the ground control station is an important part of ensuring a safe flight. These critical systems rely on PCBs.

7. Marine applications

Various ships and systems rely on PCBs to function. This includes small vessels, large cargo ships, submarines, communication systems, and navigation equipment.

PCBs used in maritime applications must also be able to withstand harsh conditions. Manufacturers of offshore PCBs emphasize reliability because the normal operation of electronic equipment is essential to the safety of crew and passengers.

  • Navigation system: Many navigation systems of marine vessels rely on PCBs. You can find PCBs in GPS and radar systems and other equipment.
  • Communication system: The radio system used by the crew to communicate with ports and other ships requires PCB.
  • Control system: Many control systems of marine vessels, including engine management systems, power distribution systems, and autopilot systems, all use PCB. These autopilot systems can help stabilize ships, maneuver, minimize heading errors and manage rudder activity.

8. Security equipment

Whether it is a home, a business, or a government building, many aspects of the security system rely on PCBs. They play more roles in our safety and security than many people realize.

The ideal PCB type depends on its specific application, but all PCBs used for safety applications must be reliable because these products must always operate as expected to be effective. Some safety equipment may be used outdoors, and PCBs that can withstand the outdoor environment should be used.

Some safety protection devices that use PCBs include:

  • Surveillance cameras: Both indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, as well as equipment used to monitor surveillance video, rely on PCBs.
  • Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors and other similar devices, such as carbon monoxide detectors, require a reliable PCB to function.
  • Electronic door locks: Modern electronic door locks also contain PCB.
  • Motion sensor and anti-theft alarm: The security sensor used to detect motion also relies on the PCB.

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. Communications equipment

PCB is a key part of the telecommunications industry. They are essential for consumer devices such as smartphones, but they are essential for the infrastructure that enables these devices to work properly.

Since many different types of equipment are used in the industry, a wide variety of PCBs are used in the telecommunications industry. Some equipment must be placed in a stable indoor environment, while some infrastructure must withstand outdoor environments including storms and extreme temperatures.

The following telecommunication equipment requires PCB:

  • Telecommunications tower: Cellular towers receive and transmit signals from mobile phones and require PCBs that can withstand the outdoor environment.
  • Office communications equipment: Many communications equipment you may find in the office require PCBs, including telephone switching systems, modems, routers, and Voice over Internet (VoIP) equipment.
  • LED displays and indicators: Telecom equipment usually includes LED displays and indicators using PCBs.

The telecommunications industry is constantly evolving, and the PCBs used in this industry is also evolving. As we generate and transmit more data, powerful PCBs will become more and more important for communication.

10. Military and defense applications

The military uses PCBs in various applications, including communication equipment, computers, vehicles, guns, etc.

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. Due to its oxidation resistance, anodized aluminum can be used. Some military printed circuit board applications may also benefit from the enhanced reliability of through-hole technology

Some of the military and defense uses of PCBs include:

  • Communication equipment: Radio communication systems and other critical communications require PCBs to function.
  • Control system: PCB is the center of various equipment control systems, including radar jamming systems, missile detection systems, etc.
  • Instrumentation: PCBs allow military personnel to use these indicators to monitor threats, conduct military operations and operate the equipment.

The military is usually 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 greatly.

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