Very few people would describe circuit boards as simple. To be sure, they can have simple components. A standard bare bones board is more a foundation for engineering than an end result. But at the same time, the more complex boards can prove more challenging than any other part of the project.
One of the big examples of this can be found with any rigid flex circuit boards. A printed circuit board, or PCB, is well known within the industry. But people more on the periphery might know it from the familiar green color. This is in no way necessitated by any aspect of a PCB design. But over the decades it’s just become something of a standard. Today when you see a green board you know it’s a PCB.
A standard circuit board is designed to act as a foundation for digital engineers. Basically, electronic components are created and mounted within a circuit board. From there the components are soldered into place. This is partially to keep the components in place. But it’s also done to ensure proper conduction of electrical signals. And this is also where we start to see a difference between standard and rigid flex designs.
The rigid flex design needs to stay stable to the point where it can support any and all components on the board. But at the same time it requires a certain level of flexibility. The former is often helped by the fact that chip design is moving to smaller and smaller form factors. A new generation of chiplets has proven itself as highly compatible with these types of board.
This is obviously working at very small scales. And that’s proven itself to be one of the most difficult parts of the process. The days when one could simply sketch out a design on a napkin are long gone. Instead people are doing most of the work inside 3D modeling programs. This doesn’t just help in the creation of a functional design. It’s also important when it comes to designing for maximum spatial efficiency.
One can often even leverage in custom code when working with the 3D design programs. This can help tweak designs for individual environments. And the end effect can be quite dramatic. It’s one of the reasons why phone designs have become so impressive. The latest generation of phones featuring bendable components are in large part due to these advances.
And single board computers also benefit from this design. The next generation of single board computers might well be focused on this type of circuit board. And it’s almost a given that individual examples will be. The only real downside comes from expense.
A standard PCB design is fairly cheap and easy to create at this point. And one can quite literally just grab already made designs. These newer variants are more difficult to design. And as one would expect, this also translates to higher prices. But the increased efficiency lends itself to projects which would otherwise be impossible.