Jun 26, 2019|Product Innovations and Design, Technological Advancements and Materials

Whether you’re designing a printed circuit board on your own or utilizing a PCB manufacturer, it’s important that you understand the terminology related to PCB. Knowing what each term means will help you complete the PCB process much more efficiently.

We came up with our PCB Component Codes guide so that you have an excellent resource to refer to while designing a PCB. These are the most common codes and abbreviations that you’ll come across. It may not be every term out there, but this list will provide you with a much-needed guide to understand common component codes.

PCB Component Codes

  • ALIVH: (Any Layer Inner Via Hole) technology that builds multi-layer BUM PCBs. The solder used creates an electrical connection between the layers.
  • AOI: (Automated Optical Inspection) refers to the inspection method that finds potential problems with the soldering performance. Used for multi-layer PCBs with mounted components.
  • AQL: (Acceptance Quality Limit) this is the acceptable number of defective boards produced in production. The number helps to monitor the quality of the assembly production practices.
  • AR:
  • BGA: (Ball Grid Array) a type of component packaging for surface mounting with integrated circuits. They help with high-speed efficiency as they use balls instead of pins.
  • BH: (Board House) a place where PCB boards are fabricated.
  • BRB: (Buried Resistance Board) a PCB with resistors buried inside. This helps improve the integrity of resistant components with the overall function and reliability of the PCB.
  • BV: (Blind Via) a through-hole which connects the inner layers. It is not visible from the exterior of the PCB.
  • CAD: (Computer-Aided Design) this is the computer and pattern equipment that the designer uses to create the PCB layout. The software creates a three-dimensional graphic.
  • CAE: (Computer-Assisted Engineering) the schematic software packages to create and visualize the PCB design.
  • CAM Files: (Computer-Aided Manufacturing Files) files that the CAD produces for PCB manufacturing.
  • COB: (Chip-on-Board) the type of bare chip SMT technology. Typically involves directly mounting integrated circuits to the PCB, rather than packaging them first.
  • CW: (Copper Weight) indicates the thickness of the copper foil on every layer on the PCB, expressed in ounces of copper per square foot.
  • DC: (Digital Circuit) opposite of an analog circuit. Digital circuits run like a switch. The action comes as a consequence of an input.
  • DIP: (Dual In-Line Package) a type of housing for integrated circuits. Usually comes in a molded plastic container that has two rows of attachment pins.
  • DRC: (Design Rule Check) software to verify the PCB layout. Typically used before production to spot any potential error sources.
  • DFSM: (Dry Film Solder Mask) a type of solder mask that has a higher resolution mask and finer line designs.
  • ECPPB: (Electroconductive Paste Printer Board) describes PCBs designed from a silkscreen printing method.
  • EMC: (Electromagnetic Compatibility) this is the capability of a system or piece of equipment to run without creating too much electromagnetic interference, which can damage other pieces of equipment.
  • ESD: (Electrostatic Discharge) caused by static electricity.
  • FD: (Fabrication Drawing) a way for designers to communicate the PCB design to the engineers and workers.
  • FR4: the material rating for a flame-resistant material. It specifies that the resin material can automatically extinguish if aflame.
  • G: generator or oscillator
  • GF: (Gerber File) a CAM file to control a photoplotter. Communicate board specifications with the manufacturers.
  • HDI: (High-Density Interconnector) type of PCB fabrication technology. Uses micro blind via technology.
  • HY: circulator or directional coupler.
  • IC: (Integrated Circuit) also called microcircuit or microchip, it is the method for miniaturizing circuits.
  • IPC: (Institute of Printed Circuits) a worldwide non-profit association for the design of PCB wiring.
  • KT: (Kapton Tape) also known as polyimide tape that is electrically insulating with many useful features.
  • LPI: (Liquid Photoimageable) a liquid solder mask that you spray onto a PCB to create a more accurate, thinner and affordable solder mask.
  • MS: (Membrane Switch) applied to the front of a completed PCB to indicate the functions of the components and the board.
  • MH: (Mounting Hole) the hole meant to secure the PCB to the intended device.
  • Multi-Layer PCB: a PCB with a minimum of three conductive layers of trace and components.
  • NC Drill: (Numeric Control Drill Machine) type of machine to drill holes in a PCB.
  • NPTH: (Non-Plated Through Hole) refers to a hole with no plated copper, meaning there are no electrical connections.
  • PCB: Printed Circuit Board
  • PCBA: Printed Circuit Board Assembly
  • PTH: (Plated-Through Hole) a procedure that plates a through-hole to make the hole conductive.
  • PWB: Printed Wiring Board (another name for a PCB).
  • RD: (Reference Designator) name of a component on a PCB.
  • RF: (Radio Frequence) an electromagnetic frequency that ranges between 300KHz and 300GHz. Can be a type of high-frequency electromagnetic signal.
  • RoHS: (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) European environmental protection law.
  • SMD: (Surface Mount Device) refers to the components that are soldered to the surface of the PCB instead of through a thru-hole.
  • SMT: (Surface Mount Technology) the type of process to directly solder SMDs to the surface of the PCB.
  • TV: (Tented Via) a type of via that has a film solder mask that covers its pad and plated thru-hole.
  • TB: Terminal Board, Terminal Strip
  • TP: Test Point, In-Circuit Test Points
  • V-Scoring: an incomplete cut through a panel that will break apart panels of a PCB into a single unit.
  • VP: (Vector Photoplotter) also known as a Vector Plotter or Gerber Photoplotter, it is a photoplotter that draws a plot line from using light manipulation technology.

The Benefits of PCB Terminology

Understanding the above terms and codes will help you design your PCB and work with your PCB manufacturer. Speed up the process, avoid mistakes, and possibly save you money in the long run by reviewing the common terms while building a PCB.

Let Candor help you design and manufacture your PCB. We can help you with all of the terminology and codes listed above, and others that may come up throughout the process. Candor will be your reliable resource for all of your PCB manufacturing needs and questions.

Need precision and reliability? Get a custom quote for our high-density interconnect PCBs today!

Author Profile

Sunny Patel
Sunny Patel is the Engineering and Sales Manager at Candor Industries. Sunny is trained as a IPC-A-600 trainer, AS9100 Lead auditor, IPC CID and got his Engineering degree at the University of Toronto.