Basic Circuit Board Terminology

Many people think of circuit boards as being used in personal computers and laptops, but they've been around much longer than these devices have. For instance, removable circuit boards were first used in a particular brand of color television when color TVs were the latest thing on the market. Today, thanks to PCB pcb fabrication technology, all but the most basic of electronic devises have a circuit board as a part of their inner components. Circuit board terminology is also something that the average consumer may not be familiar with, but a little basic knowledge can help unravel the circuit board mystery. Following are some basic terms that every consumer should learn.

circuit board

Copper Tracks

Copper tracks connect two points on the PCB through conduction. Widths vary depending on the specific currents used. Pads

These are small copper surfaces that serve as a base for components to be soldered directly onto the board. The two separate types of pads are thru-hole pads and surface mount pads.

Component Packages

The majority of modern devices now come with a large variety of component packages. The three main component packages are: Thru-hole packages Ball grid array Surface mount packages

Different component packages have different uses. For instance, a ball grid array package is most commonly used in personal computers and video accelerator cards. Surface mount packages are commonly used in smaller devices.

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Plated Holes

Plated holes are used to make connections between components on opposite sides of the board. These allow currents to pass safely through the board and reach the component on the other side. Silicon Wafer

A silicon wafer is a disk made of silicon which contains several integrated circuits. Silicon wafers reflect rainbow-colored patterns.


A chip is an integrated circuit that is created on a semiconductor and then cut away from the wafer. It is also called a "die." Components

Components refer to any and all of the basic building blocks of any electrical equipment. circuit board

Silkscreen Legend

This refers to the decals on a printed wiring board that are called legends. They are generally numbers or letters that denote serial numbers, logos, and parts numbers.

Circuit board terminology is vast and complicated, and there are many other words associated with this technology. As further advancements are made in circuit board manufacture and production, the vocabulary will undoubtedly increase signficantly.