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Mike Garner

Managing Director at Garner Osborne Circuits Ltd

The A-Z of Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are complex beasts and getting to grips with the terminology alone can be baffling, so we’ve put together an A-Z of printed circuit board terms to help you get up to speed.

Assembly: Assembly is where components are added to the bare composite board to give the printed circuit board its functionality.

Blind Via: A Blind Via connects an outer layer to an inner layer, but doesn’t go through the whole board.

Components: Components are the individual units that are added to the board, giving it its functionality.

Dry Film: Dry Film is a polymer-coated polyester film that is sensitive to UV light. It is used to print circuit boards using photolithography.

Etchant: Etchant is a corrosive chemical used to etch a design into the circuit board.

Footprint: A Footprint is the layout of pads or holes used to electrically connect a component to a circuit board.

Gerber File: These are the original design files for a PCB layout. Our specialist technicians at Garner Osborne will always review your Gerber files before quoting on a project to see if our PCB technicians can help you reduce costs or improve performance or reliability.

HASL: HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling) is a type of finish used on printed circuit boards.

Ident: Ident layers are added to the PCB to identify components, test points and parts and to add symbols, logos and warnings. It’s sometimes referred to as Silk-Screening.

Jig: Jigs are used to test PCBs. They contain a dump board which can find faults within the PCB.

Kits: Kits can be purchased containing all of the elements required for certain PCB designs. Buying components in this way can work out more cost effective for basic, off-the-shelf designs.

Laminate: Laminate is another word for the composite boards or bare boards used to build PCBs.

Multi-Layer: Often, printed circuit boards require more than one layer of composite. These are referred to as Multi-Layer boards.

Node: A Node is where two or more circuit elements meet on a printed circuit board.

Open: An Open is where a connection hasn’t been successfully joined.

Procurement: Procurement is the process of purchasing composite and components for PCB manufacture. Often cost benefits can be gained from using a PCB manufacturer that can take advantage of economies of scale on your behalf.

Quote: A Quote is the initial estimation of the cost of a PCB production and assembly run.

Resistor: A Resistor is added to circuit boards to implement electrical resistance. It can be used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, divide voltages, bias active elements, and terminate transmission lines.

Schematic: Schematics are circuit diagrams that illustrate the electrical connection between active and passive components.

Tooling: Tooling is the configuration of drills and bit changes and the making of the photo masks for the printed layers on the board.

Underside: The Underside is the bottom of the printed circuit board.

Vias: A Via is an electrical connection between layers of composite in the circuit board.

Wetshop: The Wetshop is a stage within printed circuit board production. It involves adding a carbon layer to the PCB in preparation for the copper plating process.

X-Ray: X-Ray inspection of a printed circuit board enables post production inspection of connections and features hidden from view.

XY Data: XY Data identifies where components sit on a printed circuit board.

Zener Diode: A Zener Diode allows current to flow both from anode to cathode and from cathode to anode when exposed to sufficient voltage.