An integral feature in the electronics industry, a PCB connects electrical components by way of conductive pathways that are placed on a non-conductive layer.
Their fundamental purpose makes them an essential element in electrical manufacturing, and it is thought that the worth of the global PCB market is set to reach almost $90 billion by 2024. That figure would represent a compound annual growth rate of 4.3% from where we are now.
So, with such huge progression on the horizon, what is the future of PCB development?
There is no denying that 3D printing has seen some remarkable advancements across a whole range of industries, and its effect on the PCB market has been – and will continue to be – equally significant. 3D printing has the ability to deliver huge benefits in the creation of PCBs in that it can help to produce innovative and original designs that were previously not feasible via traditional methods.
Not only that, but 3D printing is far more efficient in its use of materials – enabling the production of PCBs to be more environmentally friendly (more on that later) – as well as removing some elements of human error via increased automation.
Mounted straight onto a circuit board, these tiny cameras are revolutionising the way we use our electronic devices. Able to take high-resolutions pictures and videos, these cameras can be found in mobile phones and medical equipment, to name just two examples, while the technology driving them is being continually developed to make them smaller, more powerful and more efficient.
Of course, PCBs are only useful if they are working effectively and efficiently, which means they need testing. This can be done using oscilloscopes, which can identify and troubleshoot any issues and can be used to verify voltage if the PCB is powered. An oscilloscope can magnify the signal in a PCB but, more than that, advancements in their technology mean they can now be used for the development of PCBs rather than just repairs.
Environmentally friendly materials
The topic of climate change is a hot one around the globe right now and the amount of electronic waste – from the likes of computers, phones and televisions – is a widespread concern. The materials in PCBs do not degrade well and their presence in landfills contributes a large chunk of all the e-waste across the planet.
With that in mind, it has been suggested that changes are made to the production of PCBs using biodegradable materials as well as sourcing other ways of finishing the assembly without using harmful chemicals. It has also been suggested that the precious metals in electronic waste could be extracted and recycled for future use.