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Common Types of PCB

PCBs come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, but what also differentiates PCB types is layers, design, and purpose.

If you are wondering about different types of PCB boards and their applications, you came to the right place. In this article, we will cover the less common but at the same time the most important types of PCB design.

Different designs have different purposes and when you design your next PCB board, it’s crucial to make the right choice on which types of PCB to make according to the application needs and design features.

Single Layer PCB


Single Layer PCB


Single layer printed circuit board is the most basic type of PCB design. As the name suggests, a single-layer board is made with only one layer that includes 2 sides: one side is the conductor and the other one is for parts placement.


Single layer PCB comes with different types of PCB materials such as resin copper, glass fiber, and others.

There are vast advantages to a single-layer PCB design such as:

  • 1. Easy installation which saves cost on PCB assembly.
  • 2. Simple design, less time-consuming for a company to create.
  • 3. Effective and easy to be tested.
  • 4. Low noise that could interfere with the board functionality.
  • 5. Easy and quick soldering for samples and fast and cheap in mass production.


Single layer PCB is very suitable for different types of PCB testing as it’s easy to design, assemble and ensure the components are working as they are supposed to. Single layer will often be used in prototyping and testing types of circuit boards although it’s common that such boards will mass produce as well if the design is simple enough to fit the application needs.


Except for prototyping and testing purposes, the single board can be used in applications such as:

  • 1. Surveillance and personal cameras
  • 2. LED lighting
  • 3. Consumer goods such as Coffee machines, Radio devices, Printers, etc …
  • 4. Industrial machinery such as vending machines, multimedia systems, and more …


If you need a quick solution for low-cost quick and easy types of PCB fabrication, a single-layer PCB board might be the right solution for your needs.


Double Layer PCB

Double Layer PCB


Double layer PCB (sometimes called double-sided or dual layer PCB) are considered popular types of circuit board when it comes to mass production of PCB designs. The Double layer PCB consists of two sides, top and bottom, that sandwich cooper, insulating materials, and other different types of PCB materials.


Double layer PCBs are a very popular choice among hardware enthusiasts due to their low cost, ease of design, and speed of production. The double layer consists of connectors called “vias”, small holes which connect and bridge circuits from one layer to another. Single-sided PCBs can only be assembled on one side and don’t require vias or complex wiring schemes. The vias allow engineers to efficiently bridge one side of the board to another, ultimately connecting multiple components as a single circuit in a particular design.

Double layers are often used in applications such as:

  • 1. Industrial applications and controllers.
  • 2. Power monitoring equipment and supplies.
  • 3. Power converters AC-DC or DC-DC.
  • 4. Relays and bridges to open and close circuits.
  • 5. Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems
  • 6. Other types of PCB applications …


Whenever you are an experienced hardware engineer/designer, double layer PCB should get the work done on most occasions. A double layer is often considered the best choice when designing a brand new PCB project.


Multi-Layer PCB

Multi-Layer PCB


Multi-layer PCB refers to any other PCB that is above 2 layers threshold. Some complex designs require a lot of vias and information transfers, which will result in a multi-layer PCB design. Multi-layer PCB can go anywhere from 4 up to 16 layers on a single PCB.


Unlike the other designs such as Double-Sided or single-layer PCBs which only contains two conductive layers incorporated between the copper boards, a Multi-layer PCB (a PCB with > 2 layers) has no less than three layers of conductive material sandwiched in the center of the PCB material.

One thing to consider is that the higher the number of layers and the density in different types of PCB, the more complex the design will be and will often require more resources and time in PCB designing, producing, and testing.

High-Density Interconnect (HDI) PCB

HDI PCB

High density interconnects, on in short, HDI stands for the type of circuit board that comes with a higher density of wires. HDI board has a limited amount of space which results in tight spaces and lines.


Compared to normal PCB designs, HDI designs are the way to go when it comes to multi-layer designs with expensive finishes. HDI designs can offer multiple benefits compared to conventional designs, such as lighter weight PCB in smaller dimensions and better electrical performance.

The inspiration for HDI board design came from the semiconductors industry. Semiconductors use a very small surface area while managing to pack a lot of transistors and micro-electrical components.

HDI boards are especially suitable and optimized for high-speed electrical signal transmissions. Those boards support multiple features including HF (high frequency) transition and blockade control. The reason that HDI boards are designed with better density is due to their miniaturized design which comes with tiny electronics parts located in high density across the board, which is why we call this type of board a high-density interconnect PCB.

The applications of HDI boards include:

  • 1. Personal computers (laptops, PCs)
  • 2. Mobile phones
  • 3. Health care equipment
  • 4. Automotive industry
  • 5. Game consoles
  • 6. Wearables, smartwatches, and more …


The technology used in the production of HDI boards allows amplification of the original PCB design but in smaller, lighter, and denser spaces. The process of placing components over an HDI board requires advanced PCBA and SMT technology due to the high precision requirements and tight surface space. Repairing such boards manually can be a difficult task for engineers due to the density of the HDI board.


HDI board is a great option for designs that require fast electrical transmission while packing components in a small space.

High-Frequency PCB

High-Frequency PCB

High-frequency PCB boards are defined as types of PCB that operate in frequencies above 1GHz. There are multiple materials that can be used for pthe roduction of such boards such as PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene). This material is often called Teflon, in short. Most of the high-frequency PCB types and designs can reach a frequency beyond 5GHz. There are other types of materials such as FR4 (glass-reinforced epoxy) and PPO (polyphenylene oxide). Those types of materials can reach up to 10GHz when used correctly.


The purpose of High-frequency types of PCB, or HFP in short, is to meet the demands for advanced PCB designs. Those types of designs require fast signal transmission at a high-frequency range. This kind of ability allows the HFP to deliver signals at a high rate and great speed.

Some of the high-frequency PCB types are used in critical applications such as:

  • 1. Communication systems, network stations, high-frequency radio transmitters, etc …
  • 2. Military industry and its applications including weapons, missiles, and tracking devices.
  • 3. Radar systems and applications in aerospace and aviation
  • 4. Medical and health care applications for diagnostics and monitoring purposes.


High-frequency PCB types are crucial for industrial and critical systems use, due to their ability to transmit high-frequency fast signals across multiple circuits. For consumer use, other options might be a better choice such as a double layer or multilayer PCB.


Summary


In this article, we covered the different PCB types and their applications. No matter if you have a single layer or multilayer design requirements, PCBasic is here to help.

By understanding the application’s needs, we can turn your idea into reality. With over 15 years of knowledge, we are able to handle any type of PCB including HFP and HDI complex designs.
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