Circuit boards are essential to modern electronics, serving as the backbone of most electronic devices. Creating a circuit board is a complex process requiring proper planning, design, and manufacturing. In this article, we will cover everything from understanding circuit board design properties to best practices for circuit board maintenance.

TBR Electronics offers a complete range of circuit board planning, design, creation, and manufacturing services. We specialize in product and firmware/software development, prototype testing, and high-quality production. Our team of experts and state-of-the-art equipment ensure that your circuit board is optimized for your needs, manufactured and assembled to the highest standards.

Adhering to Circuit Board Electrical Requirements

Circuit board electrical requirements refer to the specifications and standards that must be met for the circuit board to operate correctly within an electronic device. These include the following:

Basic Electrical Concepts

These requirements include understanding basic electrical concepts such as:

  • Voltage: measured in volts (V); the measure of electrical potential difference between two points in a circuit
  • Current: measured in amperes (A); the flow of electrical charge in a circuit
  • Resistance: measured in ohms (Ω); the opposition to the flow of current in a circuit

Power Requirements

It is essential to calculate the power requirements to ensure that the circuit board can handle the power demands of the electronic device. This involves the following:

  • Determining the voltage and current requirements of each component on the circuit board
  • Calculating the total power needed
  • Designing the circuit board to handle the total power requirement while staying within the maximum power rating of the device

Importance of Meeting Electrical Requirements

Proper understanding and consideration of the electrical requirements are critical to the success of a circuit board design. Failing to meet the requirements can result in circuit board malfunction, damage to components, or electronic device failure.

Circuit Board Planning and Design

Circuit board planning determines the layout and configuration of a printed circuit board (PCB) to meet the desired electrical, mechanical, and manufacturing requirements. It involves considering the circuit’s functional requirements, the components’ physical characteristics, and the manufacturing processes used to produce the board. Its goal is to create a layout that optimizes the circuit’s performance while minimizing costs and meeting production requirements.

Designing a circuit board involves several steps to ensure that the board functions correctly and can be manufactured efficiently. Here are the essential steps in designing a circuit board:

Step 1: Creating a Schematic Diagram

The first step in designing a circuit board is creating a schematic diagram that lays out the connections between each component. This diagram will guide the placement of parts on the physical board.

Step 2: Choosing Components

Once the schematic is complete, it’s time to start the physical design of the circuit board. This involves selecting components — such as resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits — that will be used to create the desired functionality.

Step 3: Placing Components

The placement of components on the circuit board is crucial to ensure that the design works as intended. Components must be placed in a way that minimizes interference between them and ensures that the circuit operates efficiently.

Step 4: Routing the Connections

Routing the connections involves creating the traces or pathways that will carry the electrical signals between components.

Step 5: Testing and Refining the Design

After the design is complete, it’s important to test the circuit board to ensure it functions correctly. Any issues or bugs in the design must be identified and fixed before the board is ready for production.

Common Circuit Board Design Mistakes To Avoid

Designing a circuit board is a complex process, and mistakes can be costly. Here are some common circuit board design mistakes to avoid:

  • Incomplete or inaccurate schematics
  • Insufficient component placement and routing considerations
  • Poorly planned power distribution
  • Inadequate thermal management
  • Lack of consideration for manufacturability and assembly processes
  • Failure to properly test and verify the design before production

Circuit Board Creation and Manufacturing

TBR Electronics provides a comprehensive selection of services related to circuit board creation and manufacturing. Our focus lies in the development of products, firmware, software, prototype testing, and top-notch production. With a skilled team of specialists, we can transform designs into prototypes or final products, delivering either a bare board or a fully assembled unit.

Once the design process is done, it’s time to manufacture the circuit board. Creating a circuit board involves the following steps:

Step 1: PCB Printing

The first step in creating a circuit board is to print the PCB design onto a board. You can do this using various printing methods such as inkjet, laser, or plotter printing. Inkjet printing is commonly used for small boards, whereas laser and plotter printing suits larger boards.

Step 2: Etching

After printing the PCB design onto the board, the next step is to etch away the excess copper. This process leaves only the copper traces required to connect the components. You can etch the board using a chemical solution that dissolves unwanted copper. A common etching solution is a ferric chloride, which is easy to find and use. When it comes to disposing of the used etchant, it is advisable to consult local authorities to ensure proper disposal methods are followed.

Step 3: Drilling

Once you have etched the board, you need to drill holes to mount the components onto the board. The size of the holes depends on the size of the components. You can use a drill press to create the holes. A drill press is a machine that drills holes at precise locations and depths. Alternatively, you can use a hand drill, but it is difficult to drill the holes precisely.

Step 4: Soldering

Soldering is melting a metal alloy onto the surface to form a permanent bond. It is essential to solder the components correctly, as a poor connection can cause the circuit to malfunction.

Step 5: Testing

Testing the circuit board before using it in an electronic device is essential to ensure it functions correctly. It involves checking for continuity between the components and the copper traces using a multimeter. A multimeter is a tool that measures the electrical properties of a circuit.

Best Practices for Circuit Board Maintenance

Proper maintenance of circuit boards can help prevent failure and prolong their lifespan. The following are some best practices for circuit board maintenance:

Keep Circuit Boards Clean

Dust and debris can accumulate on the surface of circuit boards, leading to corrosion and electrical shorts. Also, avoid using water or alcohol-based solutions as they can damage circuit boards. Instead, you can use compressed air or a soft-bristled brush to remove dust and debris from circuit boards. It is also crucial to always remove the power source before brushing or touching any electronics to ensure safety.

Avoid Exposure to Moisture

Moisture can cause corrosion on circuit boards, leading to failure. If you must use a device in a moist environment, consider using a protective cover to shield the circuit board.

Check for Damage

Physical damage can cause circuits to break or become disconnected. If you notice any damage, replace the circuit board immediately.

Avoid Static Electricity

Static electricity can damage circuit boards. You can use an anti-static wristband or mat to prevent static electricity buildup.

Use ESD Protection

Use ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection devices, such as anti-static bags and gloves, when handling circuit boards to help prevent damage to circuit boards during handling. ESD can occur when two objects with different electrical charges come into contact.

TBR Electronics: Your Partner for Seamless Circuit Board Development and Production

If you need expert help with designing and producing high-quality circuit boards, TBR Electronics is here to assist you every step of the way! Our comprehensive range of services — including product development, firmware and software development, prototyping, and production — means we can handle everything from concept to finished product.

Contact us to learn more, or request a quote to experience how we can bring your ideas to life.