Printed Circuit Board, more commonly known as a PCB, is a piece of board which contains electronic circuitry of an electronic device. The PCB is fabricated from a conductive material, such as copper, with lamination on it. By compressing components on a board, a PCB saves space on an electronic device.
PCB designing is an essential step in the manufacturing of a device. PCB design companies hire a PCB designer for the sole purpose of designing the layout of a circuit using computer software. There are many PCB design software for commercial use.
How is a PCB made?
Designing a circuit using Circuit Schematic and Hardware
Before going to the hardware, you need to design a circuit on the software. In addition to this, you should simulate it. In this stage, you can tweak some components to achieve the desired response. PSPICE, Proteus, and SIMULINK are some of the oft-used circuit simulation software in the industry. Proteus also provides the PCB layout of the circuit.
After this, you can test the circuit using hardware components on a breadboard. It ensures that the hardware produces the desired response as well. This step also perfects your design. Designing an electrical circuit is an iterative process, and it may require several tries before you can perfect it.
Determine PCB design constraints
Before you can begin designing the PCB layout, you need to determine the design constraints. For instance, you may have space restrictions, a specific number of PCB layers, etc. Also, get a rough idea about the component placement on the board. In addition to this, determine the components that you will use on the PCB. Refer to the datasheet of the electrical components.
Simulation software, such as Proteus and Eagle, provides PCB layout as well. When you make a circuit schematic on software, it automatically places the components on a PCB. However, you can also make the PCB layout manually. On software, a Gerber file stores the PCB layout. Once you are satisfied with the PCB layout, you need to print it.
Printing a PCB
The PCB layout is printed on a photo-sensitive laminated sheet through a process called etching. There are various methods for etching, including chemical etching, which this article discusses. A bare PCB, without any circuit design, is made up of copper. The laminated sheet and the board are aligned and are exposed to UV light. It forms a layout on the PCB and covers the area which does not need removing in the etching process. The board is put in a ferric chloride solution to cover the unwanted copper with a layer of insulation. The board is submerged in a solution to remove the photoresist.
Drill holes to attach the electrical components on the PCB.
Test the PCB before printing.
When hiring a professional for electrical engineering design, you need to make sure about the experience level and skill set of the team. A lot of things can go wrong when designing a PCB. Hence, make sure that the PCB designer is detail-oriented.