Printing a Circuit Board

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Summary: Producing circuit boards at a massive scale involves advanced manufacturing processes.

Circuit boards are now a ubiquitous part of modern homes. They are in everything, from the microwaves that heat our food to the cell phones that help us connect with each other. Circuit boards have to be produced en masse in order to keep up with this demand, fueling the need for modern manufacturing that offer precision and speed. Ion beam deposition allows manufacturers to create intricate circuit boards that power all kinds of machinery in a fraction of the time it took the Silicon Valley to do originally. These improvements have not only created more efficient processes, they have lessened the costs of manufacturing.

Photolithography and Etching

A circuit begins with the substrate, or the board itself. Manufacturers design the kind of board they want on a computer, then they use photolithography to create an image of that design on the board itself. Ion beam etching is then used to deposit strict amounts of metals and other substances to the board at precise locations. This allows for more effective connections that can power a greater number of tasks.

One reason that ion beam is chosen over UHV sputter deposition is the amount of waste involved. UHV sputtering is best used when there is no precision required.


Circuit boards have become incredibly intricate as technology has progressed, and there are more connections required to divert power to the parts of a machine. Improvements in manufacturing have allowed for greater precision in the design and construction of circuit boards.