A PCB, or a printed circuit board is a device that is used to connect electronic components in electrical equipment and machinery. It uses conductive pathways etched from copper sheets which are laminated onto non-conductive substrate.
Manufacturing PCBs costs more than making simple wire-wrapped or point-to-point circuits but for large scale manufacture costs are quickly recouped as PCBs then become the most cost-effective components to use. You will find PCBs in most of the electrical equipment you have at home such as computers, games consoles, i-Pods, TVs and so many more. There are a number of methods of PCB fabrication and assembly used to create these essentials items, such as the following.
Surface Mount Assembly
This technique emerged in the 60s, increased in popularity in the 80s and became widely used in the 90s. Components have metal tabs on them which can be soldered to the board, It is now also common to have components on both sides of the circuit board, which means higher circuit densities are possible.
Conventional PTH Assembly
PTH or plated through-hole technology is a method of PCB fabrication which involves components that have leads attached to them, which are inserted through drilled holes in a circuit board. This technique leads to strong bonds on the board but PCBs made by this method can be more expensive due to the amount of drilling needed.
Box-Build, Electro-Mechanical Assembly
This can involve the use of custom metalwork, cable assembly, wire harnesses and looms, and moulded plastics to make PCBs.
You might not realize it but PCBs are in most of the electrical items you own and without the above assembly techniques your X-Box or laptop would be in serious trouble.