Applications of Printed Circuit Boards

Over a century ago, complex wiring brought electronic devices to life. Now, these wires are replaced with printed circuit boards, or PCBs. The job of a PCB is twofold: to connect all the electronic components within a device, and to insulate these fragile components when connected to a power source.

With so many different industries and devices utilizing PCBs, the construction of these critical components has evolved.These are some of the applications that you may find printed circuit boards to be used in.

Consumer Electronics

The most common sector for printed circuit boards to be used in is consumer electronics. Millions of people around the world rely on electronic devices and it has become an essential part of their daily lives. Whether it’s a mobile phone, a computer, a microwave, or even a coffee maker, most of these types of home appliances and entertainment systems have a circuit board within them.

The applications for printed circuit boards in this sector are very extensive. These are just some of the common uses for PCBs in consumer-grade electronics:

Communications: Smartphones, smart watches, tablets, and radios all utilise PCBs as a foundation for the product.

Computers: Home desktop PCs, workstations, laptops, and satellite navigation have PCBs at their core. Most devices with screens and peripheral devices also have circuit boards within them.

Entertainment Systems: Your television, stereo set, DVD player, and games consoles will feature circuit boards at their core.

Home Appliances: Almost all modern home appliances use electronic components, such as your microwave, refrigerator, alarm clock, and coffee maker.

As there is such a high demand for circuit boards to be mass produced for the consumer electronics sector, it’s important that PCB manufacturers maintain the quality and uniformity to ensure safety and compliance. This is why there are regulations and standards that PCB manufacturers need to meet. They will have quality control measures to ensure that the circuit board functions as intended and safely for the consumer market.

Industrial Applications

The industrial sector benefits greatly from printed circuit boards, especially businesses with production lines and manufacturing facilities. Not only are these electronic components essential to the day-to-day processes, but they enable automation which can help businesses to save on costs and reduce human error. PCBs can be specifically designed to withstanding high-power applications and the demanding environments which the industrial sector needs.

Here are some examples of where PCBs are used in the industrial sector:

Industrial Equipment: Assembly machines, presses, and ramps that are used in this industry have electronic components.

Power Equipment: Power supplies, power inverters, and power distribution and other power control devices.

Measuring Equipment: Equipment that is used to control the temperature, the pressure, and other variables in the manufacturing process.

The industrial sector has a demanding environment had requires PCBs that are tailored to their needs. There are a variety of circuit board types that are capable of delivering high-powered applications that are withstanding and durable, such as flex-rigid PCBs.

Medical Devices

Printed circuit boards and electronics contribute significantly to the medical sector. Not only are they used in appliances, but they are also used is monitoring, diagnostic, and treatment devices. The applications of PCBs for the medical sector is growing at a fast rate as technology improves which leads to new possibilities.

Some of the common applications of PCBs include:

Scanning Equipment: X-Ray screens, CT scanners, and ultrasonic scans all use electronic components in order to function.

Monitors: Medical monitoring devices such as blood glucose monitors, heart rate and blood pressure monitors all have electronic components inside.

Medical Instruments: The field of medical research requires various instruments to gather data and test outcomes. You may find PCBs inside electronic microscopes, control systems, compressors, and other devices.

For the medical sector, PCBs must be held to a higher standard due to the health implications. These electronics must be reliable and high-quality to ensure compliance with the medical regulations. Medical PCBs are specially designed and they tend to be smaller due to the constraints on the device size.

Automotive Applications

In the modern automotive industry, vehicles now feature a range of advanced electronics and electrical parts which provide more functionality. Whereas, compared to the past when vehicles only had a few electronic circuits for the essentials, circuit boards have come a long way and have found many uses in this sector.

Here are some of the common applications of PCBs in vehicles:

Navigation: Navigation systems such as satellite navigation have become more commonly incorporated into vehicles. These systems all use PCBs.

Media Devices: Modern vehicles may have advanced dashboards that are able to connect to the vehicle’s radio or media player. All of these utilise electronic parts.

Control Systems: Advanced car control systems such as power supplies, fuel regulators, and engine management use circuit boards to monitor and manage these parts of the vehicle.

Proximity Monitors: Newer models of cars may include built-in sensors to help the driver monitor their blind spots and judge distances. These systems require high-quality and reliable PCBs to function as intended and prevent failure.

These advanced electronics can improve the safety on the roads whilst also providing a better driving experience, which makes these systems very popular in vehicles today. However, not just any circuit boards can be used in vehicles. The environment in which these boards operate in will be demanding and they will need to be able to withstand high vibrations. Boards such as flexible PCBs are much more resistant to vibrations than your standard PCB and the challenge for PCB manufacturers  is to meet the needs of the extensive industry.