Printed circuit boards, or PCB for short, is a critical component in most electronic devices. There are typically three types of printed circuit boards: single-sided (with circuits on one side of the board), double-sided (circuits on both sides of the board), and multi-layered (layers of circuits separated by insulation). There is no one standard design for printed circuit boards since they are used for a number of different electronic devices. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of PCB assembly and how the PCB fabrication and PCB manufacturing process works.
- Creating the Board: The first step in manufacturing printed circuit boards is to create the board the circuits will later be printed on. The board is made of glass fibers that are heated in an oven and stacked in layers so they create the foundation of the circuit board. This is a critical first step in PCB assembly because if the board is not properly created, then the circuits can’t be added later.
- Drilling Holes: The next step is to place holes in the circuit board. Holes can be placed in the circuit board for several reasons. One reason is that the circuit board will need to be screwed in to an electronic device to perform its function. Another reason is that the holes can be used if multiple printed circuit boards are stacked on top of one another in a multi-layered format. If the hole is later plated, an electrical signal can be carried from one board to another.
- Adding the Circuits: After the board is created and the holes are drilled, the next step in PCB assembly is to add the circuits to the board. This can be done in one of two ways: the circuits will either be “drawn” onto the circuit board with copper or, the entire board will be plated with copper and the circuit design will be created as the copper is removed. Both methods are an effective way to create circuit patterns.
- Finishing the Panels: There are several steps involved in finishing the circuit board panels. Metal contacts must be added to the board, the board itself needs to be sealed, and the copper circuiting needs to be protected from future oxidization (if not properly protected, the copper circuiting would later cease to work properly).
- Adding Components: The final step in PCB assembly is to mount the components on the board. These components interact with the copper circuits and finish the process so that the board will work once it is properly installed in an electronic device. Once the components are added, the printed circuit board is essentially finished and can be immediately installed into a device if desired.
In conclusion, there are multiple steps to PCB assembly. These include creating the board, drilling holes, adding the circuits, finishing the panels, and finally adding vital components that will help the circuit board work properly. This is just a basic overview of the PCB assembly process but hopefully it shed some light on how the process works.