How Circuit Boards Work

circuit boards assembly

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]One of the many products we at Hallmark Nameplate are capable of creating is a PCB (printed circuit board) assembly, and the truth is that this might be just the thing you need for your business. But in order to really understand the purpose of a printed circuit board, you have to understand the very basic technology behind the product.

The Circuit Basics

Electric circuits are made up of wires and other components, such as light bulbs, transistors, computer chips, and motors. Conductive materials are what make up the wires that connect the components of the circuits. Copper and aluminum are most frequently used as conductors, but gold is sometimes used to attach wires to small electronic chips as well because it has a higher resistance to corrosion.

Different Types of Circuits

Power circuits work with transferring and controlling large amounts of electricity. Examples of power circuits are power lines, and residential or business wiring systems. The major components of power circuits are generators at one end and lighting systems, heating systems, or household appliances at the other end, with power lines, transformers, and circuit breakers in between the two. Electronic circuits, on the other hand, are responsible for processing and transmitting information. These are more along the lines of computers, radios, TVs, radars, and cell phones.

Here are some other components of circuits:

  • If you’re working with a closed circuit, you’re working with a complete path for current to flow.
  • An open circuit doesn’t have this, which is an indicator that it is not functional.
  • A short circuit is a path of low resistance, and can occur when two bare wires in a circuit touch each other.
  • In a series circuit, the same current flows through every component—think of a string of Christmas lights! If one goes out, they all go out; no current will flow, and none of the lights will go on.
  • When you think of a parallel circuit, think of blood vessels that branch off from an artery and connect to a vein. It’s the same idea with wires; one acting as the “artery” and one acting as the “vein” with smaller wires attached. The smallest wires have the same voltage applied, but different amounts of current flowing through them, depending on the individual wiring.

Circuit Classifications

One way that circuits are classified is in regards to the current flow. Some of the earliest ones to ever exist were powered by battery, which allowed for a current to flow steadily in one direction. This is considered a direct current, or DC.

To accommodate the need for power to travel over long distances, the alternating current, or AC, was invented by engineer Nikola Tesla. AC currents are always changing and reverse directions all the time. With this type of current, it is possible to use transformers to change the level of voltage, which is necessary for electronic circuits.

What does this have to do with printed circuit boards?

The purpose of a printed circuit board is to hold an electronic circuit together. When all the different components are attached to it, it’s called a printed circuit board assembly, or PCBA. A PCB with multiple layers can contain as many as ten stacked PCBs, which allows for the formation of a three-dimensional electronic circuit.

Transistors are the most important part of an electronic circuit, and can be described as tiny switches that are triggered by electric signals. They are the basic building blocks of microchips. Working alongside these are more passive elements like resistors and capacitors. The job of a resistor is to apply a specific amount of resistance to the current, and the capacitor stores electric charge. The inductor, another component, stores energy as a magnetic field. Small circuits, commonly labeled “microelectric,” don’t use inductors very often. They are used more often in larger circuits.

The most advanced designers of circuit boards use computer-aided design programs, or CAD. These are the most realistic way to design circuit boards because of the complexity of digital computers- as they use millions of transistors.

One of the best ways to understand the products we create for your every need is to study the basic components. The world of circuits and circuit boards is vast and there is always something new to learn, whether it’s an advancement or yet another element of your printed circuit board project. If you are ready to start your next project, contact Hallmark Nameplate today![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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