As the technology in which circuit boards are used has evolved, so have the circuit boards themselves. We won’t age ourselves, but at Tramonto Circuits, we have seen circuit board manufacturing change in many ways since we opened up for business.
Did you know that the earliest circuit boards were made using a technique called point-to-point construction? This involved manually wiring components together on a board. Can you imagine how long that took? Likewise, it posed the risk of human error. Engineers began seeking and testing solutions that would open the doors for mass production.
This led to a production technique called wire wrap. This meant wrapping wires around posts on the circuit board and soldering them in place. This was an improvement, but this process still required too much skill and time.
Enter the 1960’s, the era of printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing. PCB manufacturing prints a circuit pattern onto a board using a photographic process, then etching away unnecessary remaining copper to leave behind the essential circuits. PCB manufacturing remains the industry standard, but this production method, of course, has also evolved since the 1960’s.
The 1980’s presented surface mount technology, which allowed components to be mounted directly onto the board’s surface, rather than being inserted into holes. This technology played a huge role in making circuits more compact and it brought the process much closer to automation.
Now, PCB manufacturing is hugely automated, but it still involves multiple stages. There is software to create the circuit design, there are special printers to print it on the board, there is a machine that applies a solder paste, and machines that place the components on the board. There are also specialized ovens to melt the solder. Technology has significantly improved the process and quality of circuit boards.
We are currently on the cusp of what could be a new era of PCB manufacturing, and that is the 3D printing era. It is still being heavily tested and explored, but it could revolutionize the process and allow for more complex designs.
When working with a partner to manufacture your circuits, you want a trusted company that knows all the ins and outs of circuit design. Contact Tramonto Circuits for true expert advice every step of the way.