Tracing the Birth of the Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Home / Services / Tracing the Birth of the Printed Circuit Board Assembly

PCBEver wondered how phones, handheld gaming devices, radios, tablets, and other forms of technology evolved into these that we use nowadays? These went through a series of changes and innovations before it reached the market to the modern-time consumers. The gut of these gadgets is called printed circuit board assembly.

Now is the time to learn about the history of PCB assembly.

The printed circuit board assembly was developed around 1980s. Initially, in the 1850s, systems of electrical connections were made of metallic rods and strips conjoining electrical components mounted on a base made of wood. These were very large apparatus back then. Afterwards, these huge metallic components were changed into wires attached to terminal of screws. Metal chassis replaced the base made of wood. To improve operation using circuit boards, designs were reduced in size and made compact.

Come the twentieth century, the more advanced printed circuit boards were made. The early inventors that used the printed circuit concept were Albert Hanson, Thomas Edison, Arthur Berry, Max Schoop and Charles Ducas. In 1903, Albert Hanson, a German inventor, etched layers of flat foil, set of conducting materials, mounted on a non-conductive board. After that, in 1904, Thomas Edison tried and experimented on chemical techniques to plate conductors on linen paper.

Arthur Berry of Britain patented his own “print-and-etch” method in 1913. In the intervening time, in the United States, Max Schoop made a PCB design using flame-sprayed metal attached to a board, then finished with a mask of patterns. In 1925, Charles Ducas of the US invented electrical linkages with electrically conductive inks printed on stencils; this started the name “printed wiring” or “printed circuit”. The Ducas’ pattern is known as electroplating of circuits.

In the year 1930, Paul Eisler, an Austrian, graduated as an engineer from Vienna University. Eisler invented the printed circuit board in 1936. The PCB assembly that he invented was made of copper foil layer mounted on a non-conductive base reinforced by glass. It was used for radio sets or transistors.

PCBEisler was held in captivity during the Second World War. However, Eisler avoided discouragement, and he was released from prison in 1941. Thus, he searched for capitalists to invest on his invention. Eisler learned about Camberwell, a company of lithography. Fortunately, PCB assembly caught the attention of the said company. Hence, Camberwell offered a contract with Paul Eisler; thrilled, the mister signed the contract without going through it comprehensively. The act of ignorance led to the transfer of rights of the invention to Camberwell. Despite the mishap, Eisler, in 1943, still obtained the patent of the PCB in its other forms.

Eisler’s PCB became known to the military of the United States. During the World War II, the military used the printed circuits for bomb detonators as well as for anti-aircraft proximity fuses. In the end of the war, Americans won against Germans as they used the great advancement, the printed circuit board assembly of Paul Eisler. After the World War II, the US allowed commercial use of the PCB.

The printed circuits boomed in the mid 1950’s as used in commercialized devices. Company named Hazeltine patented their own design of the PCB assembly in 1961 called “through-hole”. Following, in the 1970s, integrated circuit chips were invented.
The through-hole method gave birth to the smaller boards being used in present time. Manufacturers used the smaller boards to make more compact gadgets or devices. The through-hole method is still being applied nowadays. Hence, the PCBs being used for light compact devices are comprised of 50 layers or greater.

In the modern world, we use gaming devices, remote controllers, and tools for communication. All these encase printed circuit board assembly in its compact and lighter version. The innovation of the PCB never ends, as we see changing trends in technology.