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    Printed Circuit Boards are very necessary in fine electronics

    Consumers now-a-days aspire for thinner, faster and more streamlined devices. In order to meet their demands, it’s no surprise that the pressure falls on high-performing PCBs for development and growth. Modern PCBs are versatile, there’s always room for development. In order to deliver new features that connect both consumers and professionals, product manufacturers are focusing on extracting even more power from printed circuit boards. Slimming down of electronic gadgets such as tablets, phones, televisions and wearable devices is not under wraps. Thanks to efficient manufacturing processes and sleek design software. Modern technology focuses on smaller, lighter and more powerful devices.

    PCBs today are tiny, multilayered, complex systems that hardly resemble their earliest ancestors. They’re also produced at a much higher and more efficient rate than ever before thanks to sophisticated design software and manufacturing processes. Even 10 years ago, microvias, HDI and FPGAs were only seen in the most expensive designs, yet are now readily available to designers worldwide. PCB technology will continue to advance into the future as our needs and priorities change. Companies today work in new designs and invests in new technologies and are on the lookout for changing trends. On top of that, they partner with PCB solutions partners who is prepared to handle changing technological needs well into the future.

    The Internet of Things presents quite a fascinating challenge for virtually every industry, including the PCB sector. In the past, this technology mainly focused on consumer-grade devices, offering remote monitoring and controls through open-data connections. This is still the case, but IoT is much more prevalent in commercial industries today, such as manufacturing, retail, development, and much more. The nature of IoT devices is that they are generally compact and portable, yet packed to the brim with functionality. So, they require substantial boards, many of which push the limits of what you can do with a lightweight PCB.

    Complicating things is the design detail that requires security to be built-in as a foundational element. That means printed circuit boards need to incorporate more advanced forms of protection against tampering, whereas formerly the more significant concern was protecting the board and its components from environmental changes. IoT-ready PCBs also have to meet rather stringent standards and regulations, which directly govern their development. A lot more goes into the design and construction of PCBs for IoT-related technologies, despite their compact sizes.

    Information technology, meaning the science of computing, the world of PCBs, changes so much and sometimes so rapidly that it is difficult to predict what trends or patterns will be most significant to PCB users meaning manufacturers but other industries too, as well as consumers. One has to look at the changes that have happened, that have gained or are gaining a foothold within the industry in a relatively short period.

    Flexible PCBs

    Designed as a replacement for traditional wire harnesses, flexible PCB or flex circuit in its purest form is an array of conductors bonded to a thin dielectric film. Flex circuits utilize flexible based material with or without flexible cover lay, allowing the board to conform to a desired shape (flex) during its application. The major advantage of flexible PCBs is that it has a great ductility and tensile strength. This means it can handle more stress and can be easily bent when compared with conventional rigid PCBs. Moreover, these are light and thin and require less manual labor during assembly. The PCB industry is already a fast-growing industry. Flexible PCBs can handle more stress and bending than rigid PCBs and can even be folded to fit into awkward 3D spaces, making them useful for applications where bending is a regular occurrence. They also tend to be very light and thin, yet remain relatively easy to manufacture in mass quantities.

    Several industries are pushing the trend toward flexible PCBs, including: 

    LED Lighting

    LED lighting is wildly popular as a bright yet energy-efficient alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. For LED strip lighting, flexibility is key along the length of the strip so customers can bend the strip to suit their needs. Flexible PCBs bring about this necessary functionality.

    Wearable Technology 

    Today, wearable electronic devices are becoming ever more popular, with the global market expected to reach tremendous heights. These electronics are often embedded into clothing and flexible accessories such as smart socks, belts and wristbands. Even some sports helmets now incorporate sensors, using PCBs, to monitor shock and speed. Flexible PCBs are necessary for these applications, both for the sake of flexibility and for handling shock and vibration.

    Flexible Displays 

    Flexible displays have enjoyed attention for years but are still relatively rare to find and aren’t in general use yet due to the high manufacturing costs. However, once those production costs come down, flexible devices are expected to be the next big thing in mobile technology. Able to handle shocks and stresses better than typical rigid designs, flexible displays will be likely to lead to flexible smartphones and tablets. This will probably require everything else in the device to be bendable as well, including PCBs.

    Medical Instrumentation

    Medical device innovation has so far focused mostly on two technology trends: miniaturization and flexibility. Flexible PCBs enable medical device designers to accomplish both, by allowing for compact circuitry on a flexible substrate. Flexible PCBs are also favored for their reliability and biocompatibility, as their connections are consistent and their substrates are compatible for contact with human tissues. For these reasons, flexible PCBs have become a mainstay in many medical devices and are used in surgical tools, implantable medical devices, monitors and sensors.

    Printed Circuit Board Cameras

    Printed Circuit Board Cameras are commonly known as Board cameras. These are a type of digital camera with image sensors and optical device mounted directly on a circuit board. Ensuring the compactness of these printed circuit board cameras, they can be slipped inside any electronic device, from a cell phone to a tablet. PCB Cameras comprise of lens, image sensor and aperture. Incorporation of camera in a board makes this small stature exceptionally versatile in an inexpensive way.

    3D Printed Electronics       

    3D Electronics is perhaps the most intriguing development in the world of PCBs. This technology enables designers to print metal traces and insulating polymers simultaneously. It enables quick and precise fabrication of complex and functional circuit boards and other innovative devices. The immense benefits of 3D-printed products in technical and manufacturing fields are paving the way for exciting new markets, applications and opportunities.

    Eco friendly Circuit Boards

    With the soaring customer demands to buy new smartphone, tablet, or laptop, the older model is usually disposed. Research reveals that as much as 25 million tons of electronic waste is produced globally each year. While we take pride in our PCB designs, these boards when decomposed leach toxins into the ground. Natural fibers and protein-based PCBs provide an excellent alternative to the synthetic polymer-based circuit boards. It helps us to reduce the environmental burden due to the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste).

    Biodegradable PCBs

    Electronic waste, AKA e-waste, is one of the biggest environmental concerns of the modern era. This type of waste includes electronic items like computers, laptops, TVs, smartphones and household appliances, many of which contain parts that are neither biodegradable nor environmentally-friendly. While e-scrapping has become popular in recent years, e-waste continues to be a problem as people try to find ways to get rid of old electronics.

    Assembly Process and Future

    The recent trends signify the coming changes in PCB design and manufacturing, and some are likely to be more disruptive to the current market than others. But, they also show positive forward momentum in terms of design innovation and performance planning. The PCB industry as a whole is evolving and improving, not just in regard to product design and reliability but also in response to more unified regulations and commercial standards. Future will be a period of innovation for the world of printed circuit boards. Technological advancements have assiduously surpassed the limitations of the original PCB design. The evolution of 3D printing alone has meant that there are several new techniques in PCB creation. 3D printed electronics (PEs) can now be utilized to print items layer by layer and subsequently, the item can be printed with a liquid ink that contains electronic functionalities.

    Consumer electronics, medical instruments and surveillance technology have all seen the need for PCB in their development. The decreasing size of the component makes it the perfect addition to various items, from laptops and handheld cameras to minimally invasive medical equipment. The technology industry is constantly evolving and the future for PCBs is growing coincidently with it. Their use will increase in wearable electronics, flexible displays and medical applications. With changes in technologies, the field of PCB design and manufacturing is also changing very rapidly. Technicians and Engineers all around the globe are adopting innovations in this field.

    By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times
    Mannu Mathew
    Mannu Mathew
    An engineer and a journalist, working, researching, and analyzing about the technology sphere from all possible vector, Currently working as a Sub-editor / Technology Correspondent at ELE Times

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