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The PCB

One of the most revolutionary pieces of technology is the Printed Circuit board. A printed circuit board is in every piece of electronic equipment that we own yet most people pay little to no attention to them. The history behind this device has changed the electronic world as we know it today and continues to revolutionize modern technology. To learn more about how Murrietta Circuits can help with your PCB Design and Manufacturing needs, click on the hyperlinks for more information.

PCB Creation

Paul Eisler who was born in Vienna in 1907 invented the first PCB when he was 30 years old. In 1943, Eisler patented a method of etching the conductive pattern, or circuits, on a layer of copper foil bonded to a glass-reinforced, non-conductive base. After gaining recognition in the United States, Eisler's original patent was eventually split into three different patents: 639111 (Three-Dimensional Printed Circuits), 639178 (Foil Technique of Printed Circuits), and 639179 (Powder Printing). These three separate patents were published on June 21, 1950. Very few companies actually licensed the patents and due to Eisler being unsuccessful in their commercialization, he continued to struggle financially. Eisler died with dozens of patents to his name shortly after receiving the Institution of Electrical Engineers' Nuffield Silver Medal in 1992. To this day, he is known for his work but never truly received the recognition he deserved.

PCB Evolution

Printed circuit boards have evolved from the original electrical connection systems that were developed in the 1850s. Metal strips or rods were originally used to connect large electric components mounted on wooden bases. In time the metal strips were replaced by wires connected to screw terminals, and wooden bases were replaced by metal chassis. With the advent of transistors, however, the components became very small, and PCB manufacturers turned to printed circuit boards to reduce the overall size of the electronic package. Over the years, smaller and more compact designs were needed due to the increased operating needs of the products that used circuit boards. In 1925, Charles Ducas of the United States submitted a patent application for a method of creating an electrical path directly on an insulated surface by printing through a stencil with electrically conductive inks. This method gave birth to the name "printed wiring" or "printed circuit." Through hole technology and its use in multi-layer PCBs was patented by the U.S. firm Hazeltyne in 1961. The resulting increase in component density and closely spaced electrical paths started a new era inPCB design. Integrated circuit chips were introduced in the 1970s, and these components were quickly incorporated into PCB Design and manufacturing techniques. In 2010 eSurface, a proprietary technology for creating circuits on a circuit board, with a much finer line & space geometry, than anything currently in existence within our industry today was created. More specifically, it is a proprietary coating that chemically activates the surface of nearly any material (FR4, Rogers, Polyimide, Duriod, Teflon, Flex/Pyralux and more) and allows the copper circuit to form a much improved bond between the base laminate and the copper circuit. It also creates a circuit pattern with improved line definition (or resolution / tolerance), circuit shape and process consistency, than the current chemical etching technology.

PCB Design

When it comes to PCB design, there is no standard template that can be used. Each board is designed unique to its function for a particular product and must be designed to execute that function in the needed size of the chip. Think about your cell phone - you need the PCB in order to have a working phone, but each cell phone model has different needs and different sizes - therefore the chips are designed specifically for that phones function and size. Thanks to advancements in modern technology, software has been created that streamlines each of the PBC Design processes. These software programs can automatically perform many of these Printed Circuit Board Design layout steps.

Commercial PCB Design steps:

  • Schematic capture through an Electronic design automation tool.
  • Card dimensions and template are decided based on required circuitry and case of the PCB. Determine the fixed components and heat sinks if required.
  • Stack layers of the PCB. 4 to 12 layers or more depending on design complexity. Ground plane and power plane are decided. Signal planes where signals are routed are in top layer as well as internal layers.
  • Line impedance determination using dielectric layer thickness, routing copper thickness and trace-width. Microstrip, stripline or dual stripline can be used to route signals.
  • Placement of the components. Thermal considerations and geometry are taken into account. Vias and lands are marked.
  • Routing the signal trace. For optimal EMI performance high frequency signals are routed in internal layers between power or ground planes as power plane behaves as ground for AC
  • Gerber file generation for manufacturing.

Murrietta Circuits uses the following software programs for PCB Design and Manufacturing: Mentor Graphics Expedition, Altium, Pads, OrCAD, OrCAD Spice, Solidworks and CircuitWorks.

PCB Manufacturing

PCB Manufacturing Companies never use the Gerber or Excellon files directly on their equipment.PCB manufacturing cannot be done professionally without a CAM system.

Computer Aided Manufacturing System Functions:

  • Input of the Gerber data
  • Verification of the data; optionally DFM
  • Compensate for deviations in the manufacturing processes (e.g. scaling to compensate for distortions during lamination)
  • Panelize
  • Output of the digital tools (layer images, drill files, AOI data, electrical test files,.)

Murrietta' Circuits CAM stations use Valor Genesis software to perform DFM analysis for maximum throughput. Our intent is to spot and correct problems before your boards are built.


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