Through-hole technology, also spelled “thru-hole“, refers to the mounting scheme used for electronic components that involves the use of leads on the components that are inserted into holes drilled in printed circuit boards (PCB) and soldered to pads on the opposite side either by manual assembly (hand placement) or by the use of automated insertion mount machines.

Through-hole technology almost completely replaced earlier electronics assembly techniques such as point-to-point construction. From the second generation of computers in the 1950s until surface-mount technology (SMT) became popular in the late 1980s, every component on a typical PCB was a through-hole component. PCBs initially had tracks printed on one side only, later both sides, then multi-layer boards were in use. Through holes became plated-through holes (PTH) in order for the components to make contact with the required conductive layers. Plated-through holes are no longer required with SMT boards for making the component connections, but are still used for making interconnections between the layers and in this role are more usually called vias.

Axial and radial leads

Components with wire leads are generally used on through-hole boards. Axial leads protrude from each end of a typically cylindrical or elongated box-shaped component, on the geometrical axis of symmetry. Axial-leaded components resemble wire jumpers in shape, and can be used to span short distances on a board, or even otherwise unsupported through an open space in point-to-point wiring. Axial components do not protrude much above the surface of a board, producing a low-profile or flat configuration when placed “lying down” or parallel to the board.

Radial leads project more or less in parallel from the same surface or aspect of a component package, rather than from opposite ends of the package. Originally, radial leads were defined as more-or-less following a radius of a cylindrical component (such as a ceramic disk capacitor). Over time, this definition was generalized in contrast to axial leads, and took on its current form. When placed on a board, radial components “stand up” perpendicular

Board-to-board (BTB) connectors are used to connect printed circuit boards (PCB), electronic components that contain a conductive pattern printed on the surface of the insulating base in an accurate and repeatable manner. Each terminal on a BTB connector is connected to a PCB. A BTB connector includes housing and a specific number of terminals. The terminal is made from a conductive material (mostly copper alloy), and plated to improve conductivity and antirust. Terminals transmit the current/signal between PCBs connected by BTB; the housing is made of insulating material (mostly plastic).

Surface-mount technology (SMT) is a method for producing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). An electronic device so made is called a surface-mount device (SMD). In the industry it has largely replaced the through-hole technology construction method of fitting components with wire leads into holes in the circuit board. Both technologies can be used on the same board, with the through-hole technology used for components not suitable for surface mounting such as large transformers and heat-sinked power semiconductors.

In integrated circuit design, a via is a small opening in an insulating oxide layer that allows a conductive connection between different layers. A via on an integrated circuit is often called a through-chip via. A via connecting the lowest layer of metal to diffusion or poly is typically called a “contact”.

In printed circuit board design, a via consists of two pads in corresponding positions on different layers of the board, that are electrically connected by a hole through the board. The hole is made conductive by electroplating, or is lined with a tube or a rivet. High-density multi-layer PCBs may have microvias: blind vias are exposed only on one side of the board, while buried vias connect internal layers without being exposed on either surface. Thermal vias carry heat away from power devices and are typically used in arrays of about a dozen.