8 Different Types of Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are a medium that connects electronic components to each other under controlled settings. They are found in most electronic devices and are meant to connect the electronic components of the device and support it. There are many different types of PCB based on their application requirements, design specifications, and the PCBA manufacturing process. The types of printed circuit boards for electronic devices are chosen depending on the space available, electrical and mechanical stability, and their capability to handle stress.

Types of Printed Circuit Boards

1.     Single-sided PCB

This is the simplest and the most commonly found type of circuit board. It has a conductive copper layer above the substrate, and the electrical components are either placed soldered or placed on one side of the board. As they have only one conducting layer, they take up a lot of space, as their conductive paths cannot intersect. They find extensive application in low-cost electronic instruments such as FM radios, calculators, LED lighting boards etc.

2.     Double-sided PCB

These PCBs have a thin layer of conducting material on either side, and there are holes in the board to connect the metal parts from one side to another. The components on both sides are connected through plated holes or surface mount technology. It is more commonly used in more complex electronic devices like amplifiers, HVAC applications, UPS systems, cell phone systems etc.

3.     Multi-layer PCB

Multi-layer PCBA manufacturing incorporates more than two layers of conductive material and insulating material stacked on top of each other, like a sandwich. These layers are laminated and bonded with each other under high temperatures and pressures to eliminate air gaps in the middle. They find extensive applications in medical equipment, laptops, computers, GPS trackers and other devices that demand complex circuits.

4.     Rigid PCB 

The rigid PCB, as the name implies, cannot be folded or twisted. The base material of the board is made of a rigid substance, which gives it its characteristic strength and rigidity. They are made with multiple layers of copper, substrate, solder mask and silk screen in the electronics lab and are adhered to each other using heat. We can find rigid PCBs in GPS equipment, X-rays, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, CAT scans, temperature sensors, and MRI systems.

5.     Flex PCB

As the name implies, these boards are made of many different printed components and circuits that are arranged on a flexible material like polyester or polyimide. These boards can be bent or twisted to fit into tight spaces or conform to the shape of the device. They are available in single sides, double-sided and multi-layer configurations. Flexible PCBs are commonly used in wearable devices, OLED fabrication, cameras, medical equipment, and other applications where flexibility is required.

6.     Rigid-Flex PCB

These boards are a combination of rigid and flexible PCBs into a single board to offer a very high degree of flexibility. The flexible portion of these boards is generally used for interconnections between the rigid boards, as they take up very less room. As they have a flexible wing connected to the rigid board, they eliminate the need to use bulky connectors, making them much lighter. They are designed to be compact and lightweight and thus find extensive application in medical and aerospace equipment.

7.     High-frequency PCB

 These PCBs are designed to work with high-frequency signals, typically above 1 GHz. They have specific characteristics such as controlled impedance, low insertion loss, and excellent signal integrity. High-frequency PCBs are used in applications like telecommunications, wireless devices, and radar systems.

8.     Metal core PCB

In a metal core PCB, the base material is a metal core, usually aluminium or copper, which provides better heat dissipation compared to standard PCB materials. Metal core PCBs are used in applications that generate a lot of heat, such as power electronics, LED lighting, and automotive systems.

Bottom Line:

The use of these different types of printed boards depends on a number of components, such as space constraints, signal integrity considerations, thermal management needs etc. These different types of printed circuit boards are manufactured in the electronic labs for use in different electronic devices. It is important to buy PCBs from reputed manufacturers and distributors who cater to the diverse competitive market, as these are predominantly used in electronic devices of everyday use.