201701.18
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5 Pieces of Modern Technology That Wouldn’t Exist Without Printed Circuit Boards

A Printed Circuit Board, more commonly known as a PCB, is a basic building block of most modern electronic devices. They are usually made from fiberglass or reinforced plastics, with traces of copper and thin strips of conducting material. These strips connect electronic components, carrying information between them, and enable the device to work as intended. PCBs can be a single layer for basic electronics or up to twelve layers for more complex devices.

Without PCBs, most of the current technology that you utilize every day wouldn’t exist. Developing technology, which is a highly competitive and ever-evolving industry, is also reliant on the rapid advancements being made in the development of smarter and faster PCBs. Here are four pieces of modern technology that have been made possible by PCBs.

1. Personal Devices

The most common uses for PCB’s are the ubiquitous personal devices that are used by most the world’s population. Cell phones, tablets, and computer components, such as motherboards and GPUs, all rely on PCBs to function.

PCBs have transformed the humble cell phone into a palm-sized super-computer. The technology that is now commonplace, but would have seemed like a futuristic fantasy only a decade ago, is all possible because of advancements in PCB development.

2. Smart Refrigerators

The humble refrigerator has come a long way in recent years. Thanks to advancements in PCB development, a fridge can now connect to the internet, can sense which products are stored inside, and can tell you when you are running low on an item. They can also have a touch screen on the door, which can be used for general internet searches, recipe searches, watching TV or movies, and scanning barcodes for your food inventory. Fridges can also be used for instant messaging, calendars, phone calls, and reminders.

This sort of technology, which puts the Jetson’s kitchen gadgets to shame, is reliant on PCBs to function. Despite their high-tech specs, smart fridges still perform their basic duty. In fact, they are even more functional and more efficient than a standard fridge. For example, they can be programmed to perform certain functions, such as the defrost cycle, at the most efficient and convenient time of day.

3. PCB Cameras

All cell phone and tablet cameras contain a PCB. These cameras are very small and yet can take high definition images and video that rival the quality of comparatively enormous digital SLR cameras from a mere decade ago.

Advances in PCB development has led to many smartphone companies including two cameras in their most recent models. Many of them give you such high-resolution images that a separate, dedicated SLR camera may soon be a thing of the past.

PCB cameras are now being made on a microscopic scale, with PCBs so small that they’re almost invisible to the human eye. These cameras can be swallowed or inserted easily into the human body, making many investigatory medical tests much more accurate and far less invasive.

4. 3D Printers

3D printing is one of the most exciting new technological developments of the twenty-first century. Many commentators even go so far as to suggest that 3D printing will change the world. 3D printers create three-dimensional objects from a two-dimensional plan. These can be used in a vast array of applications, from medical situations, so that doctors can physically see an identical replica of a patient’s organs, to developing previously unachievable artwork or creating practical items for the home.

The latest versions of 3D printers can even be used to print electronics. The 2D plan is printed in layers to create the physical object. This item is then printed with an ink which has electronic capabilities. This type of PCB powered 3D printer has very exciting possibilities for the future.

5. Home Automation Systems

Almost everything from home security systems to ceiling fans can now also contain PCBs, which means that they can be controlled remotely from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. The PCB-driven controller in an appliance or feature enables it to be more energy efficient as it can be programmed to turn off or on at certain times.

Home automation is a burgeoning market, and most modern appliances now carry the PCBs to integrate them into this type of system. PCBs can also be retrofitted to older appliances to enable them to be accessible in your home’s automation system.

In the modern world, you are literally surrounded by PCBs. They are found in almost every electronic device in the home, office, the built environment around you, and even your vehicle. PCBs are an intrinsic component of contemporary life.

The future of PCBs is also very exciting. Instead of merely being a passive communicator, the PCB could well be on the way to being an active part of a device, making electronics faster, smarter, and more intuitive. This opens up the possibilities for a range of technological advances, shaping the future of medical science, robotics, and the way that humans live, work, and play.