In 1903, German inventor Albert Hanson described multiple layers of flat coil conductors laminated to an insulating board. The very next year, Thomas Edison experimented with methods of mounting conductors onto linen paper. In 1927, Charles Durcase patented a technique of electroplating circuit patterns. Each one of these small discoveries helped pave the way to manufacturing the amazing and complex electronics we now use every day.

Before the widespread use of printed circuits, point-to-point construction was practiced. The turning point came during World War II when the development of the anti-aircraft proximity fuse required the use of an electronic circuit that could be fired from a gun. The Centralab Division of Globe Union proposed a method that met those requirements: a ceramic plate would be screen printed with metallic paint and carbon material, used as conductors and resistors. Ceramic disc capacitors and subminiature vacuum tubes would be soldered in place. The method worked, and the patent was assigned to Globe Union.

Interesting Facts About Circuit Boards

  • Rigid and Flexible printed circuit boards have been common ever since the Auto-Sembly process was developed by the United States Army in the mid-1950s.
  • Common PCB materials include: Teflon, FR-4, FR-2, polyimide, conductive ink, and BT-epoxy.
  • Printed circuit boards are almost always green because they are made from a glass-epoxy, which is naturally green.
  • A printed circuit board with electronic components is called a printed circuit assembly, or PCA.
  • CT scans are used to generate a 3D image of the circuit board to see details such as soldered paths and connections.
  • PCBs can be damaged by static electricity. It is even possible to blow an etch off the board with just a static charge.
  • Before Integrated Circuits were invented, cordwood construction was used for electronics for which space was an issue.
  • Flexible PCBs are becoming more common than rigid printed circuit boards.
  • Circuit board failure can be linked to one of two factors: performance problems from environmental stresses, or problems caused by the flexible PCB manufacturer during the production process.
  • The revenue of circuit board and electronic component manufacturing in the U.S. ranged at about $44 billion in 2014.
  • Flexible PCBs are built on flexible high-temperature plastic like Kapton.

We now have the PCB, or printed circuit board, which is used in so many of our electronic devices, as well as medical and automotive technology. It’s flexible PCB manufacturers that allow us to create such small devices with such enormous power.