Printed Circuit Board Basics

Learn about PCBs, how they work, and how to read them.

Close-up of a PCB and its mounted components.
Close-up image of a printed circuit board’s surface

What is a PCB?

A PCB, or printed circuit board, is one of the most fundamental components in electronics today. They are used in everything from everyday items like cell phones, computers, appliances, vehicles, and musical equipment to jets and nuclear power plants. PCBs allow electricity to travel between components across pathways etched into the surface of the board rather than use wires, allowing a significant simplification and reduction and size. Printed circuit boards have become so commonplace even the cheapest electronics now often have some sort of board component.

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