An overview on the production process of PCBs using a PCB design tool
What is a PCB – this question might often spring up in your head. You might also wonder about the manufacturing process of PCBs, or printed circuit boards. Today, we are here to tell you that you are not the only one with this question. There are several out there, who really do not know what a circuit board is. Certainly not everyone is an expert, but a little bit of knowledge about something will not harm anyone. So today we are here to teach you what PCBs are and how and why they are so important in today’s world. So read on to find out more.
PCBs are generally used to connect components like capacitors and resistors using conductive connections, signal traces, tracks or pathways. These connections are etched on the PCB using copper sheets by the process of laminating them on non conductive substrate for better and faster connectivity. These non conductive and conductive pathways give PCBs a whole new name – they are also often termed as PWBs or Printed Wiring Boards. Once all the components are mounted on the board, they come to be known as PCA or Printed Circuit Assembly, or PCBA, or Printed Circuit Board Assembly. But ultimately, these are called PCBs by a leman. These are basically terms used by engineers.
PCBs are usually cheap, but one of the most reliable components of any electronic design. The original cost of design and manufacture can be a bit high, owing to the high price of a reliable and feature rich PCB design tool, but the final cost will seem to be much more effective, especially for bulk manufacturing endeavours. The IPC or the Association Connecting Electronics Industries organization usually sets the assembly, quality control and design standards of a PCB.
The manufacture of high grade PCBs usually involves bonding of copper layers over a substrate to allow for better connections. This makes a PCB complete in every way. Without these, it will just be a blank board with holes. Once the copper is bonded, the excess material is removed using the etching technology to give it a final shape.
Many manufacturing plants also make use of a technology called multiple electroplating, the use of which is determined by the amount of production – either prototype or sample, or mass production. This process is quite complex in nature, which involves the addition of a copper layer on the bare substrate of a PCB. Without proper technological knowledge, and a good PCB design tool, things can get quite messy.
Experts use various techniques and technologies to get rid of the excess copper not bonded to the PCB. Silk screen printing is normally the adopted technique for this, which ensures accurate manufacture of a PCB. Photographic methods are also used by various manufacturing firms.
When production is on a prototype basis, manufacturers tend to use print onto transparent film, laser printed resist, CNC mill and laser resist ablation techniques to manufacture a PCB. Silk screen printing is also used for making prototype PCBs.