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Printed circuit board (PCB) in electronics explained

A printed circuit board (PCB) is a board with circuits that connect electronic components together. PCB's are used in computers and other electronic devices and are made of an electrically non-conductive material, usually fibreglass.

Making an electrical connection between components

Electronic components are mounted on pads that are electrically conductive (often in copper) or in plated through-holes. Between the pads and holes, copper lines are etched either between the fiberglass layers or on the front and back surfaces of the board. This routing provides the required electrical connection between the components.

The electronic components are attached to the board by soldering, i.e. by heating a metal which, once liquid, is deposited around the component or component pins and then solidifies.

Printed circuit boards can contain a large number of different components (surface mounted devices (SMD's) and through-hole components), all connected together and used for a specific functionality, for example to operate a computer, mobile phone or television.

Example of a printed circuit board, used for testing for the PICASSO mission.