Printed circuit boards are the reason why we enjoy using a lot of electronic devices today. This is one of the most groundbreaking inventions made in the history of technology. Many people have either seen or known a printed circuit board, but only a few know the story of how it was born.
It was an Austrian engineer by the name of Paul Eisler, who came up with this brilliant idea. Before him, many scientists and inventors had many schemes like Charles Ducas, Albert Hanson, and even Thomas Edison, but it was Eisler who made a fascinating discovery. During the year 1936, wiring connections were built using point to point method: a very difficult and complicated process to connect wires.
He came up with an idea of applying his knowledge of the printing processes to improve the state of wiring connections. This is by printing wires with the use of a conducting ink and settling it onto a board. He first tested it with a radio set and was proven to work. This marked the first creation of a printed circuit board. However, due to Nazi attacks, he fled to England and settled a life by selling patents and started to introduce his creation; but it was not accepted due to its costly materials.
In 1943, USA adopted the PCB concept for the proximity fuse technology during World War II. Five years later, the early PCBs were made available for people. During the 1950s, engineers realized that internal components such as vacuum tubes were very large so they wanted to find easier ways to mount electrical wiring connections, so transistors were made for the public. With the availability of these, PCBs were widely needed and thus, mass-produced.
It was in the year 1956 when a method called through-hole process was discovered to be an effective procedure of mounting electrical components. Using a zinc plate, the wiring pattern was initially drawn and photographed onto it. The wires were printed through the use of a specialized ink which is resistant to acid and can be etched with an acid solution as well. The next decade offered the improvements on the plating methods of PCBs. This bore the creation of the double-sided and multi-layered PCBs.
The 70’s marked the second boom of printed circuit boards. During these years, engineers wanted to design smaller boards and perfected it. Due to this small size, the method of hot air soldering was introduced and used to design them. One decade after this, printed circuit board designs were created and made compatible for computers. Also, the technology of surface mounting was presented.
Now, the components can be directly attached onto the PCB itself, phasing out the traditional through-hole process. This process also allowed smaller board size with the same high efficiency. The next ten years after proving the effectiveness of surface mounting technology, micro-technology was presented giving birth to another PCB advancement: the High Density Interconnect (HDI) PCB which has a higher wiring density than the traditional printed circuit board.
When the new millennium came in where gadget advancements started, a new development for PCBs was made once again. This marked the start of ELIC or the Every Layer Interconnect PCBs that are used for high-speed smartphones, tablets, and camcorders. Today, boards are getting smaller and smaller to cope up with the technological needs of people, and giving off a lot bigger profits to its leading companies and manufacturers worldwide in return.
Gadgets, appliances and similar electronic devices today are in the state of a high widespread usage; and it is because of these printed circuit boards that they perform according to their designated function. Without the ups and downs of PCBs, these devices would never be known to exist. Even though the progress of the printed circuit board manufacturing is undeniable, it still dreams of further advancements to help the people in the near future.