In our day to day routine work, we see lots of fascinating devices and gadgets that attract our attention and we buy them and use them. But we may do not know what piece of artistic engineering is behind those device. And the heart of these devices and pinnacle of engineering is "Printed Circuit Boards" PCBs. Almost all of the electronic devices, are made up of PCBs and miniature SMT and through hole components that all together make the device perform as it is designed to do. Our smart phones, TV, radio, home appliances, office equipment like printer, scanner, computer and industrial equipment and machines all necessarily made of these PCBs. The core of electronics reside in PCBs. As the technology is expanding and vast electronics industry is evolving, the PCBs are also becoming more advanced and complex to serve more and more functionality, with higher speed and greater reliance.
The PCBs are usually available in green color, rigid board that contains sophisticated integrated circuits at the heart of electronics. These complicated circuits using high profile integrated circuits assembled over PCBs make them useful in various and countless applications. Some of the main applications and uses of PCBs would be worth discussing. These are mentioned as below
Today the advancement in medical field is solely due to modernization of electronics industry and core of electronics is the PCB. Nowadays PCBs are fabricated with more and more functionality to be embedded on single board with limited space. This causes the PCB to become dense and can be used extensively in medical equipments. These PCBs are called High density interconnect HDI PCBs. The medical devices are highly size constrained so these HDI PCB serve the purpose. Specially in medical implant these PCBs can be made flexible that can be use as internal of external device. The material used in medical PCBs are very high grade that if implanted in human body will not harm it. Special quality assurance checks are made and compliance is assured to meet strict medical regulations.
Some of the medical applications are as below:
- 1) Monitors: Sugar level tester, blood pressure reader, heart rate monitor, pH meter, Oximeter, pressure sensors etc.
- 2) Scanning Technology: X-Ray, CT-Scan, Ultrasound machines are the best examples of medical equipments highly dependent on advance and complex multilayer PCB
- 3) Control Systems: Medical and dental health care machines like automated dental chair, panoramic radiography machine, pressure control valve and hand piece. The flow rate controller, dispensation and infusion machines are also example.
- 4) Internal Devices: Medical miniature PCBs that are transplanted during surgery in the patient. These can be bioelectronics chips to control the movement or hearing aid devices for impaired persons. A heart pacemaker is good example.
The consumer electronics terms is very commonly used, and it include each and every electronic item used by consumers or people all around the world including you and me. There are countless products that we use in our daily lives like Smartphones, camera, camcorder, audio player, computers, calculators, etc.
The main thing is that these products are manufactured at large scale for the mass population so the demand is very high resulting in low per unit cost.
The one thing important is that the manufacturer make sure that all the PCBs made for example for LED TV functions exactly same as it is designed to do so. As LED TV is in high demand and every home has this, so every TV must function and show symmetry and uniformity in performing functions. The second thing is the quality assurance. Consumer electronic products must strictly comply with QC standards. Some of the applications relevant are
- 1) Communication Devices: Smartphones, Telephones, PABX system, Fax machines, optical fiber cable devices, Internet devices, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, GPRS devices all comes in this category.
- 2) Computer Electronics: Personal Desktop Computers, Laptops, Notebook, Gaming PCs, Gaming Laptops, crypto mining devices, Server room devices like network switches etc comes in this type Camcorders, digital cameras, microphones and other recording devices all rely on their internal PCBs to function.
- 3) Entertainment Systems: Play station, Camera, mp3 player, camcorder, FM radio, DVD player, video games, toys, LED TV and many more devices falls in this type
- 4) Home Appliances: All the appliances that we see in our homes comes in this category. Like kitchen appliances juicer, blender, grinder, microwave ovens, refrigerators etc. Daily use machines like washing machine, hand dryer, iron press, rechargeable fans, alarm clocks etc.
When it comes to industrial equipment, we think of large and heavy. Yes that is correct. The majority of the industrial equipment is electrical and mechatronics based. The PCBs used in industrial environment are made from tough material that can bear high pressure, high temperature, shocks, vibrations and noise parameters.
The majority of industrial equipment is automation based. Many of the places in factory or industry employ the robotic hands to work which are solely based on PCBs that can bear fast movements and accelerations. Also if the material being handled by robot is toxic or chemical then the associated electronics and PCB must be able to bear it. In industrial machines, the PCBs used are conducting high current so in order to protect PCBs from damage and melting, the copper tracks are made thicker as compared to conventional PCBs. For example battery chargers, high current arc welding, laser cutting, steel fabrication machines. Some examples are
- 1) Industrial Equipment: Electric conveyer belts, cranes, electric presses, hooter and security systems, electric drills and cutters etc
- 2) Measuring Equipment: Electric scales, pressure gauges, flow sensors, liquid level meters, temperature monitoring and logging systems
- 3) Power Equipment: Servo Motor Driver, DC-AC inverters, Three phase Power controller, PLCs and SCADA.
Automobiles are the increasingly in demand for last two decades. We have seen newest and latest models of cars that are available and the industry of automobile is booming day by day. This multibillion dollar industry is generating very high revenues and is the backbone industry of any country. Now the electronics involved in this industry is immense. The moderns sports cars, personal use cars and Auto trucks are loaded with electronics inside them. For example the headlight control, automatic door control, wipers, automatic rooftops, windshield are some of the examples.
The advance RF technology is also incorporated in today's exquisite auto cars like GPS technology for tracking position of car, ultrasonic radar technology for collision avoidance and auto driver mechanism that can take complete control of the car and there is no need of driver to drive the car. This is only possible due to high frequency, high speed microwave technology and the core of which is high grade complex network of circuits embedded over multilayer PCBs.
Recently, the big car manufacturers are moving towards the "Electric Cars". These cars will be driven by a high quality, very compact battery that will work as energy source to drive the car instead of petrol. This extraordinary advancement has changed the dynamics of auto industry hence completely transferring the gears to electronics from petrochemical industry. Some of the examples of automobile applications are
- 1) Obstacle Detection and Safety: Latest cars are equipped with advance electronics that provides safety to car drivers and use camera and radars to detect obstacles in near proximity to avoid collision. This safety system surely uses high end PCBs to work.
- 2) Light Control and Gauges Systems: Backlight, headlight, side lights and other lighting system being controlled by car power supply that contains high power PCB to supply current to circuits. Other gauges like fuel gauges and speedometer are also powered by these PCBs
- 3) Navigation Devices: GPS tracker now commonly used in many cars for safety purpose. Many companies are giving this with their new car selling to customers as mandatory.
- 4) Audio and Video Devices: Audio devices like FM radio speaker driver circuits and USB players are used in advance decks commonly found in modern cars. Similarly video devices like small LCD display to enjoy any music or check behind the car scenario for safety purpose.
Aerospace include everything that can fly and reach the sky. These include airplane, drones, quadcopters, fighter jets, rockets, missiles, satellite, space craft etc.
These machines require a great deal of precision and durability in their design. So the electronics associated with these, must be sturdy and robust and at the same time performing accurately. A flex rigid PCB can be a solution to the aerospace environment where harsh temperature, pressure and shocks hazard could destroy rigid PCB. The aviation electronics is based on sophisticated circuits that are carefully designed to perform accurately and precisely. The PCBs associated are consequently designed and made in careful environment to ensure required technical parameters. Few of the examples of aerospace applications are
- 1) Aircraft / Avionics: Accelerometers, gyroscope, navigation system, guidance and control system for rockets and missile, tracking and control based on IR sensors, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, humidity sensor, altitude sensor, torque and force sensors electronics are some of them.
- 2) Satellite Control: Magnetometers, Gyro and reaction wheels electronics, Solar Array / Panel deployment electronics and control circuits PCBs. Transponders and image processing circuits and PCBs.
The lighting applications demand high current and hence employs the high luminosity LEDs. These white color high luminous light LEDs are soldered upon the Aluminum base PCBs. The Aluminum base PCBs can dissipate heat efficiently produced by high current. These LED lights consume low power than halogen bulbs and energy savers and saves electricity and that is whey becoming popular and in high demand. Some of the examples of lighting applications are
- 1) The Automotive Industry: The LED lights are commonly used in advance cars. These LEDs are installed upon the aluminum PCBs and are used in headlights and breaklights. Although these light may be dangerous to human eye if we see directly into it but despite of this it is becoming popular among car enthusiast.
- 2) The Computer Technology Industry: Our laptops, PCs and mobile phones have back light and indicator lights that are all made of the LED lights soldered on aluminum base PCBs.
- 3) The Medical Industry: Specially in dental treatment, the lighting equipment is very important. And in crucial operation theatre the surgeons use these immense LED lights to deeply see the minute things and perform operation. These LED light PCBs are small and can be operated by battery and can render the medical device portable.
- 4) Residential and Home Applications: Perhaps the most important use of lighting applications of PCBs is in our homes. We see everywhere lights. These lights are coming from LED lights. These LED lights consume less power and hence excellent choice to install in our homes to save electrical power consume and reduce electricity bills and save money. These LED lights are also safe because they cannot explode unlike halogen bulbs. Their luminosity is comparatively high and are also cheap. These LED lights are readily available on any electric shop and you can buy them easily. These PCBs are aluminum backed and can transfer heat efficiently.
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