Please Wait One Brief Moment as We Conduct Your Part Search
Our state of the art technology allows us to monitor
global prices, trends and inventories... instantly
I.C. Plus is a top certified RoHS compliant company
becoming the distributor of choice for many companies.
We specialize in providing excess inventory solutions;
let us create a solution for your excess inventory needs.

Archive for June, 2011

Introduction to Circuit Boards

Posted on: June 17th, 2011 by admin

Introduction to Circuit Boards

Circuit boards or commonly known as printed circuit boards are boards that contain electronic components such as diodes, transistors, integrated circuits and other electronic components.  However, prior to being mounted with components the circuit boards are just plain sheets of insulating material such as fiberglass coated with conductive material which is usually copper on one side or on both sides.

There are some circuit boards that have multiple layers.  These types of boards are usually used for complex electronic devices such as Mother Boards found in computers.

Through-hole technology and Surface mount technology

In a printed circuit board the components are connected to each other using either one of two methods.  The first and older method is through-hole technology while the second and newer method is surface mount technology.

Through-hole technology uses thin wires or leads that are pushed through the small holes in the substrate of the board(which may be composed of fiberglass or a resin) and is secured by a solder to the opposite side of the circuit board. The components used in through-hole technology such as wires, diodes and transistors are much larger compared to its surface mount technology counterpart.

Surface mount technology, meanwhile, does not make use of drilling holes. Surface mount technology is performed by directly placing the components on the surface of the board.  The circuit board is then slowly preheated using infrared lamps, which slowly melts the solder of the mounted components unto the surface of the circuit board. The solder is then hardened by slowly cooling the finished circuit board.

Surface mount technology also enables more space and is more light weight as surface mount technology components are smaller compared to through-hole technology components. Integrated circuits are a very important piece of the puzzle.

As early as the 1850s

The earliest circuit boards are known to be used as early as the 1850s.  This was composed of metal strips or rods that are used to make a connection between enormous electronic components that were mounted onto wooden bases.

Eventually, the rods or metal strips where replaced by wires and the wooden bases were replaced by metal bases.

Soon, the increasing demands for smaller and much more compact designs eventually lead to the innovation of making electrical paths on the insulated surface of the circuit board. This was accomplished by printing while being guided by a stencil the conductive ink the electrical paths unto the circuit board. This was the first method of making a printed circuit board that was then patented in the US in 1925 by Charles Ducas. Circuit boards since then have been evolving slowly in size and in complexity.

Rise in the prices of Rare Earth Metals

Originally used by the military and other industries.  Circuit boards are now in almost all electronic devices.  These devices range from computers, mobile phones and other portable devices that use electronic components.

This has resulted in and the substantial rise of the prices of rare earth metals. Although the rare earth metals are not used to manufacture circuit boards, they are used for the components that are surface mounted onto these circuit boards.

A known fact is that China holds more than half of the world’s rare earth metal deposits and is slowly using it to bolster their position economically and politically.

As the information age forces us to adapt to technology at an ever-increasing pace, the production of circuit boards along with the electronic components that require rare metals is critical to the perpetuation of the ever-increasing amounts of information that we process daily.