Different Types of Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

When it comes to electronic devices, printed circuit boards (PCBs) are essential components that allow for the proper flow of electricity. But did you know that there are different types of PCBs to choose from?

As a crucial component of electronic devices, having a solid understanding of the different types of PCB boards available is paramount. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional electronics engineer, this article will help you understand the various types of PCB boards so that you can choose the best one for your needs. Read on to learn more about the types of PCB boards available and their unique features.

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    Types of PCB (Printed Circuit Boards)

    1. Single Sided or Single Layer PCB

    Single Layer PCB

    Single Sided or Single Layer PCB is a type of printed circuit board that has only one single conductive layer and one non-conductive substrate. The electronic components on this type of board are soldered on one side only, while the holes for components are not plated through.

    This type of PCB is the simplest and lowest cost board available as it only requires a single layer for the conductive pathway. Single Layer PCBs are commonly used in applications such as toys, calculators, and other electronic devices that do not require high complexity.

    In terms of production, Single Layer PCB is the ideal choice for mass production due to their cost-effectiveness. However, if a circuit requires more connections, a more complex board such as a double-sided or multi-layer PCB would be necessary.

    2. Double Sided PCB or Double Layer PCB

    Double Layer PCB

    Double Sided PCB, also known as Double Layer PCB, is a type of printed circuit board that consists of two copper layers mounted on either side of an insulating substrate. This type of PCB is commonly used in a wide range of electronic devices due to its versatility and efficiency.

    One key feature of Double-Sided PCB is the presence of plated holes, which are tiny holes drilled through the substrate and lined with conductive material to create an electrical connection between the two copper layers. These holes are essential for connecting the electronic components placed on both sides of the PCB.

    The conductive layers of Double-Sided PCB are made of copper and form the conductive paths or traces that allow the flow of electricity between the components. These layers are sandwiched between the insulating substrate and are patterned to create the necessary circuit connections.

    Double Sided PCBs are commonly used in various electronic devices such as mobile phones, medical devices, and integrated circuits. Their compact design and efficient use of space make them an ideal choice for mass production. In addition, the use of surface mount technology allows for the assembly of smaller and more complex electronic components.

    3. Multilayer PCB

    multilayer pcb boards

    Multilayer PCB offer numerous advantages over single- and double-layer PCBs, making them an ideal choice for a wide range of applications. These types of PCBs consist of multiple layers of conducting material separated by insulating layers, allowing for increased density and complexity as compared to single- or double-layer PCBs.

    The additional conductive layers in multilayer PCBs help increase their density, allowing for more components to be integrated into a smaller space. This increased density also allows for greater complexity in the design of the PCB, allowing for highly intricate circuits to be created. Multilayer PCBs can be designed with power planes, which provide a stable voltage distribution throughout the board and help reduce electromagnetic interference.

    Multilayer PCBs are suitable for a variety of applications, including data storage, satellite systems, and medical equipment. These types of PCBs are commonly used in data storage devices as they have the capability to store large amounts of data in a compact space. They are also used in satellite systems, where they can withstand the extreme temperatures and harsh environments of outer space. 

    4. Flex PCB or Flexible Printed Circuit Board

    Flex PCB or Flexible Printed Circuit Board is a type of PCB that is known for its flexibility and bendability, unlike rigid PCBs that are hard and inflexible. These boards are suitable for electronic devices that require flexible circuitry, such as medical devices, mobile phones, and other electronic equipment that needs to bend or fold.

    Flex PCBs come in various configurations, from single-sided PCBs to double-sided PCBs, or multilayer PCBs, depending on the complexity of the electrical circuit. The substrate of a Flex PCB is usually made of polyimide or polyester film, providing excellent thermal and chemical resistance.

    Flex PCB is becoming the ideal choice for mass production of electronic devices such as mobile phones, medical devices, and other electronic devices that require a wide range of electrical circuits. It has a high level of thermal conductivity and low thermal expansion, making it suitable for high-frequency PCBs and microwave PCBs.

    5. Rigid Flex Printed Circuit Board

    Rigid Flex Printed Circuit Board (PCB) is a hybrid combination of a Rigid PCB and a Flexible PCB. In its most simple form, a Rigid Flex PCB consists of a rigid circuit board joined to a flexible circuit board. However, when design requirements demand it, these boards can be more complex.

    Rigid Flex PCBs consist of both rigid and flexible substrates that are laminated together to form a single circuit board. This makes them ideal for applications where flexible connections are required to transmit signals or power between circuit board sections that are fixed in a rigid position.

    The process of creating Rigid Flex PCBs involves laminating the flexible circuit board onto the rigid circuit board, and then drilling holes through both boards where connections are required. These holes are then plated with a conductive material to make electrical connections. The resulting Rigid Flex PCB is a single unit that combines the benefits of both a Rigid PCB and a Flexible PCB.

    One of the advantages of Rigid Flex PCBs is that they can be designed to fit into 3D shapes, making them ideal for use in medical devices, mobile phones, and other electronic devices that require custom-fitting PCBs. Another advantage is that they are less prone to thermal expansion than other PCB types, due to their combination of rigid and flexible materials.

    6. High Frequency PCB

    High frequency PCBs are designed to transmit signals over 1 gigahertz and are essential for the functioning of modern electronic devices such as mobile phones, medical devices, and electronic gadgets. Their construction requires specialized techniques, materials, and considerations to ensure optimum performance.

    The construction of high frequency PCBs involves multiple layers of a substrate material made of Teflon, polyphenylene oxide (PPO) resin, or FR4-grade glass-reinforced epoxy laminate. These materials possess high thermal conductivity and low dielectric loss, making them the ideal choice for high frequency applications. The substrate is then coated with a layer of conductive material such as copper to form conductive layers, which are connected by hole technology.

    The manufacturing techniques is different between low frequency PCB and high frequency PCB. For high frequency applications, precision is crucial, and the manufacturing process needs to take into account the tolerances of materials used, thickness of the dielectric, and drilling tolerances. Advanced manufacturing techniques such as laser drilling, plasma etching, and advanced surface mount technology (SMT) are commonly used for producing high frequency PCBs.

    7. High Density Interconnect (HDI) PCB

    High Density Interconnect (HDI) PCBs are a type of printed circuit board that are designed to pack a great deal of functionality into a small space. HDI PCBs are specifically designed for use in high-end control systems, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices that require a high level of precision and miniaturization.

    HDI PCBs are different from traditional circuit boards in several ways. They use precision-based manufacturing technology to create multiple layers of conductive material, known as “conductive layers,” which are separated by advanced laminate materials. These materials allow for the creation of fine lines and tolerances, as well as laser-drilled microvias. This precision-based manufacturing technology enables HDI PCBs to be much smaller and more compact than traditional circuit boards, and to support complex and sensitive electrical circuits.

    HDI PCBs are commonly used in a range of industries, including telecommunications, medical devices, automotive, and aerospace. Electronic devices that benefit from HDI technology include smartphones, tablets, high-end control systems, advanced medical devices, and other applications that require high levels of precision and miniaturization.

    8. Aluminum-Backed PCB

    Aluminum-backed PCBs are a popular type of circuit board that offer several advantages over traditional fiberglass-backed PCBs. These boards are constructed using a unique combination of aluminum and other materials, making them highly durable, heat resistant, and energy efficient.

    The construction materials used in aluminum-backed PCBs contribute to their impressive durability and heat dissipation capabilities. The base layer of these boards is composed of aluminum, an incredibly strong and lightweight metal that is known for its excellent thermal conductivity. This layer is then coated with a dielectric layer, typically made from a material like epoxy or polyimide, which insulates the aluminum and protects it from environmental factors. Finally, a layer of copper is added to the top of the dielectric layer, providing a conductive surface for electronic components to be mounted.

    Because of their unique construction, aluminum-backed PCBs are ideal for a variety of applications that demand high levels of durability and thermal conductivity. In particular, these boards are commonly used in medical devices, industrial machinery, and high-frequency microwave circuits. They are also a popular choice for products that require a low coefficient of thermal expansion, making them an ideal choice for mobile phones and other electronic devices that experience frequent temperature changes.

    9. Ceramic PCB

    Ceramic PCB

    Ceramic PCBs are a popular choice for high-power and high-frequency applications due to their impressive thermal conductivity and exceptional mechanical strength. These circuit boards are made from either aluminum oxide or aluminum nitride ceramics and offer a myriad of benefits that make them the ideal choice for modern electronic devices.

    One of the most significant advantages of ceramic PCBs is their high thermal conductivity. This property allows for efficient energy transfer, making them perfect for use in devices that require an exceptional amount of power, such as microwave ovens or high-powered electric motors. Due to their low dielectric loss and constant dielectric properties over a wide range of frequencies, ceramic PCBs are also suitable for high-frequency applications such as cellular phones.

    In addition to their impressive thermal and mechanical properties, ceramic PCBs offer excellent performance during temperature fluctuations. These circuit boards can withstand extreme temperatures and provide consistent performance, even under harsh conditions.

    Ceramic PCBs are also known for their exceptional mechanical strength, making them a popular choice for medical devices that need to be durable and long-lasting. Furthermore, due to their superior strength, ceramic PCBs are less prone to warping or cracking, making them an ideal choice for applications where reliability is crucial.


    There are various types of PCB that differ in terms of their characteristics, including their number of layers, flexibility, and thermal properties, among others. The suitability of each PCB type will depend on the specific use situation, such as space constraints, mechanical stability, and high-frequency performance.

    Choosing the right PCB can have a significant impact on the functionality and performance of electronic devices, and thus, it is important to carefully consider the different options available.


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