Printed circuit boards or PCBs are the backbone of all major electronic equipment out there. These highly innovative systems are being used in all computational electronics, like calculators, digital clocks, electronic doors, and more. PCB works in a way that it routes electrical signals through electronics, satisfying the device’s mechanical and electrical circuit requirements. In other words, PCB acts as the brain of the electronic device that tells the electricity where to go, making the electronic device function and operate as intended. As an electronics manufacturing company, it is vital that you understand how the whole process works so that you can implement the right ideas to create PCBs for your electric equipment.
There are specific parameters when it comes to PCB fabrication and will differ from one PCB fabrication service to another. That is, different manufacturers follow different processes for fabricating printed circuit boards. However, the approach and concept are the same across the globe.
If you are new to the industry and want to know about the whole process, then we are going to discuss the fabrication process of a PCB. Also, are going to discuss the factors that prove to be vital in choosing the right PCB fabrication services company.
What is Printed Circuit Board Fabrication?
As the name suggests, PCB fabrication is the assembling of components and parts of a circuit board used in a computer or electronic device. The board is carefully designed with different layers and specific surface patterns to ensure that it does what it is intended for.
It is a thin board made of composite epoxy, fiber, or other laminate material. The panel connects all the components inside, allowing your electronics to work as per its design and features. PCB fabrication is a long process that contains several steps. Let’s discuss each step in detail.
1.The very first step is data preparation, where the customer sends in some Gerber data, which is sent to the CAD department. The manufacturer checks whether the customer data meets the manufacturing requirements. In the majority of cases, these checks are done automatically. Once the manufacturing requirements are analyzed, the manufacturer checks the track widths, pads around the holes, the space between the tracks, and even the smallest hole size, among other things. This is done to ensure that product specifications are met. All in all, the first step is the verification of data, after which the manufacturer outputs all the tool files required to drive the machines and equipment that will fabricate and test printed circuit boards.
2.In the next step, laser photo plotters are used in a humidity and temperature-controlled darkroom for making films. The plotter takes the data retrieved from the first step and translates it into a pixel image. The manufacturer uses a high-intensity laser to translate this onto the film. Once the film is ready, it is aligned and arranged as per the circuit design. The film is then put on the table along with a film punch. The operator adjusts the table to ensure that the lines on the film are precisely lined up with the lines on the film punch. Once this is achieved, each sheet of film is punched with registration holes.
3.Shearing is the next step where the laminates are sheared according to the specifications provided in the design catalog by the customer. They are fabricated into a panel form, particularly if it is a single or double board, and will be directly sent for the drilling process. However, if it is a multi-layered circuit board, inner layers are developed first before it is sent for drilling. For multi-layer boards, manufacturers use glass epoxy laminate material for creating the inner layer. They use powerful UV lamps to create copper patterns on the film. Next, the inner layers are etched, and unwanted copper is removed using an alkaline solution.
4.Next, the board is inspected from inside-out to ensure that the finished product has widths and dimensions exactly as designed. Then holes are drilled into the circuit board.
5.In the next step, copper is plated on holes to provide conductivity.
6.Addition etching and striping are performed to remove any exposed copper and other unwanted components from the board.
7.Finally, electrical testing is conducted to determine whether the newly fabricated circuit board functions properly.
How to choose the right manufacturer for PCB fabrication?
There are several aspects to consider when it comes to choosing a PCB fabrication manufacturer. The primary factors are as follows:
●Determine the capabilities of the manufacturer by asking them the right questions. You need to determine whether the manufacturer has previously worked on your type of project.
●Next, ensure that the boards the manufacturer creates are of high-quality. Test their sample products.
●See how quickly they can deliver you a particular set of circuit boards in a given time.
All in all, it can take some time to find the right manufacturer for your PCB manufacturing needs. You should keep looking and always ask the right questions.