3 Main Types of Circuit Boards

Prototype circuit board

Prototype PCB assembly is an effective way of testing the printed circuit boards for defects and faults. If one is detected on the prototype, it’s not a big deal to redo the prototype PCB assembly process in order to construct other prototype circuit boards to test. Once the prototype passes the tests, then the actual circuit board can be made. Cheaper materials like plastic are used in the prototype PCB assembly line in order to save money on potential failures. The pricier and better quality materials like steel are used on the final circuit board. Circuit board prototyping has been around for a while and has been proven to save a lot of money and time during the PCB fabrication process. Once prototype PCB assembly is complete, at the actual board can be made, there are three different kinds of printed circuit board construction methods that can be employed. These are known one sided, double sided and multi layered circuit boards.

One Sided Printed Circuit Boards
Also known as single sided PCBs, these have been around since the 50’s and are still very popular. One sided PCBs can be made very quickly and are easy to design. They are probably the most cost effective which is what makes them the most popular also. Some of the most common ways the single sided printed circuit boards are used for include but are not limited to the following list:

  • Power supplies
  • Cameras
  • Relays
  • State drivers
  • Circuits
  • Vending machines
  • Sensors
  • Coffee makers
  • LED lights
  • Printers
  • Calculators
  • Surveillance systems
  • Radios and stereos
  • Packaging equipment
  • These are very basic printed circuit boards and usually have all their components mounted on one side and the conductor pattern is on the other side. The reason it’s called a single side is because there is only the one conductor pattern. This would only work for circuits where no wires cross each other and are routed around one another.

    Double Sided Printed Circuit Boards
    These kinds of boards can be used for slightly more complex circuits because they have twice as much room for the conductor pattern than single sided boards do. There are conductor patterns on both sides of the board instead of just the one. Having them separated means that there has to be an electrical connection between the two in order for the board to work. These connections are known as ‘vias.’ Simply put, a via is a hole in the printed circuit board that is full of metal and extends to both sides of the board.

    Multi Later Printed Circuit Boards
    What makes multi player PCBs different is that they usually have more than one conductor that is patterned inside the board. This is to make more area able to handle wiring. These kinds of boards are made by attaching however many double sided circuit boards together and add insulating layers between the board. These layers are known as the number of conductor patterns. There is usually an even amount of layers and the number includes the top and bottom
    boards as well. The most common multi layered PCBs contain anywhere from four to eight layers but it’s possible to make a board with up to 100 layers. Super computers were really the only pieces of equipment that can handle just a large printed circuit board. Even now, these are becoming more and more obsolete because of the more efficient practice of using several computers instead of one large one. Typically, you can’t tell how many layers a printed circuit board has just by looking at it but there are times where you can look at the side and count them. The layers in these kinds of boards are called ground, power or signal.There can be more than just one power and ground plane. This is usually when the components need different voltage supplies.

    These are the three main types of boards that are manufactured. Any other variations of the boards are less common and not regularly used. These are usually custom made circuit boards and are not widely available on the public market. If you need a custom made circuit board, there are companies that will make them at a cost, if you are willing to pay. Their techniques are largely the same withe small changes to ensure the customization that you need for whatever the project is you are working on.