A Brief History Of Printed Circuit Boards

The use of printed circuit boards has changed dramatically over the years. Once used as a revolutionary military technology, printed boards have now become a technological go-to. With its many different types (single-sided v. double-sided, rigid v. flex v. rigid-flex), the printed circuit board has revolutionized the way technology has developed ever since its invention. 

World War II - An Unexpected Gain in the Field of Technology

While prototypes had come before, it wasn't until World War II that printed circuits became a worldwide phenomenon. 

In 1943, an Austrian engineer by the name of Paul Eisler invented a printed circuit that was used as part of a radio set. This new technology proved to be an important weapon for the United States Army, as it could withstand being shot from a high-powered gun and was able to detonate at a designated proximity. 

The compact nature of the printed circuit, as opposed to the previously used point-to-point circuit construction, helped to spread its fame after World War II. 

Commercial Distribution and Uses After the War

World War II was the perfect stage on which printed circuit boards could make their debut. Their uses during the war led to many technological advances post-war, including better radio and television technology. 

This new technology soon found its way into American homes, leading engineers to continue to improve the printed circuit board. New materials, resins, and adhesives were tested. This new technology was being pushed to see just how small and capable it could become. 

Printed Circuit Boards and Their Many Uses Today

As technologies have improved, circuit boards have become increasingly smaller and more flexible. This has lead to their constantly growing number of uses in the automotive industry, the entertainment industry, and even in the field of medicine. 

Flex circuits can take up to 90% less space than their wired counterparts. The most common base material used, polyimide, gives flex and rigid flex boards their heat-resistance and durability, increasing the number of ways these boards can be used. 

The invention of the printed circuit board came at just the right time. Used as a secret weapon in World War II, it soon became popular for its compact nature and versatility. Engineers are now able to make increasingly flexible boards, as well as boards with just the right amount of rigidity and flex. As technologies continue to improve, so will the capabilities of the circuit board and the electronics that utilize it.