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Printed Circuit Boards are such an important part of the machines we use every day that it’s easy to take them for granted. But the basics of these devices are quite simple and important to understand.

The function of a PCB is to connect the various electrical components to one another. In the past, each connection was linked through point-to-point wiring, which was a slow, inefficient process, Featured imageand resulted in a mess of connections that could easily break.

It was essential to have more durable, cleaner connections; and that’s why PCBs were developed. A circuit board begins with a base material, or substrate. This is usually fiberglass, but some are plastic, and they vary in thickness. The substrate creates a rigid and durable structure.

Next a thin layer of copper is laminated to the board. Usually it goes on both sides, but in cheaper boards it may only go on one side. This is the distinction between double side and single sided PCB boards.

A colorful solder mask goes on top of the copper to protect against unwanted contact with the metal on top. This is what gives the boards the green color, although they can be any color.

The next layer is the silkscreen, which allows you to print ink onto the board to label different parts and make it more clear to users.

Precise mechanical drills bore tiny holes into the board. Through those holes, silicon diodes are installed. They act as valves to allow current flow in one direction. Connections between all of the diodes are printed solder. Passive elements like resistors and capacitors are installed on top. Multiple layers of circuitry can be stacked on a single board. A 4 layer PCB is an incredibly complex piece of circuitry in a tiny device.

With something so complex, clearly everything must be painstakingly planned from the beginning. A circuit board layout is the first step in building a PCB. This is where LSP Corporation can come in. We’re a full service PCB design agency. We can design custom boards from scratch for output in any format, including the industry standard gerber format. We can convert existing layout art from any format­— even low quality images— and create high quality plans. We even specialize in PCB reverse engineering, where we can take an existing physical board and create plans to create a duplicate.

So whatever you’re PCB design needs are, LSP is the place for you!