A PCB, or printed circuit board, is a board that supports and connects electronic components. The components are mounted on an insulating board, known as the substrate, and the components are connected into a circuit by a conducting material.
Printed circuit boards are used in radios, computer systems and radar devices. In fact, they are found in almost all electronic products and, as such, there are many different types.
What are the different types of Printed Circuit Boards?
As the name suggests, single-layer PCBs use just a single layer of substrate, and the circuit is present on just one side of the board. This type of printed circuit board can be easily mass-produced, but they are not often used in high-demand applications due to the limitations of their design.
Double-layer or double-sided printed circuit boards are still made from a single substrate, but both sides of the board are printed to allow more complex circuits and, as such, can be used in more demanding applications. The components on opposite sides of the boards can be connected via holes drilled in the substrate, which are then lined with a conductive material such as copper.
Multi-layer PCBs can support even more dense and complex circuits than double-sided PCBs because they use more than one substrate. These layers are separated by epoxy-infused fibreglass sheets known as prepreg, and then laminated together to create a single unit. As with double-sided boards, the different layers of these types of printed circuit boards can be connected through drilling holes that are then lined with a conductive material.
Rigid PCBs use an inflexible substrate as the base which prevents the board from being distorted during use. The motherboard found in computers is an example of a rigid PCB. These types of printed circuit boards can be single-layer, double-layer or multi-layer, depending on the application.
Contrary to rigid PCBs, flexible PCBs are made from a substrate that is flexible and can therefore be manipulated or shaped to perfectly fit the device they are being used in. This helps to save space within the device and also doesn’t compromise the way the device has to be designed in the first place. Flexible PCBs can be made with a single, double, or multi-layer design.
Rigid-flex circuit boards combine the technology and uses of both rigid PCBs and flexible PCBs. A rigid PCB is connected to a flexible PCB in this type of board. These boards are especially useful in applications where you need the benefits of a rigid PCB but you still need to reduce the weight or make the design more compact.
High-frequency PCBs are used in applications where a signal transmission is involved, such as mobile, radio, and microwave designs. These types of printed circuit boards provide a frequency range of 500MHz to 2GHz.
Aluminium-backed PCBs have a thick aluminium substrate, topped with a dielectric layer and a copper foil layer, which is thicker than on traditional PCBs and can support a larger current. Aluminium-backed PCBs have good heat dissipation, meaning the circuits are protected in applications where a lot of heat is generated, such as in lighting.
Hopefully, this guide to the different types of printed circuit board and their applications has been useful to you. PCBs can be found in almost every electronic device, but the requirements of the application will determine what type of PCB needs to be used.
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