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The PCB Manufacturing Process

The PCB Manufacturing Process The printed circuit board (PCB) acts as the linchpin for almost all of today’s modern electronics. If the device needs to do some sort of computation — such as is the case even with simple items like a digital clock — chances are there’s a PCB inside of it. PCBs bring electronics to life by routing electrical signals where they need to go to satisfy all of the device’s electronic requirements. For this to happen, PCBs are laid with a network of paths outlined in the traces. It’s these copper pathways that allow PCBs to direct electrical currents around their surface. There are three main types of circuit boards that get manufactured on a consistent basis, and it’s important to understand the differences between each so you can decide the right circuit board for your requirements. The three main types of circuit boards in current manufacture

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Halogen-Free PCB

Halogen-Free PCB While researching various types of printed circuit boards for your industry applications, you may have come across a mention of the halogen-free PCB and wonder if it is right for you. What is a halogen-free printed circuit board, and in what circumstances would you need one? Do I Need Halogen-Free PCBs? The short answer is that you probably want all your PCBs to be halogen-free. To understand why, it’s important to know what halogens are. Halogens are elements, many of which historically were used in printed circuit boards, often because it was cost-effective to do so. However, we now know halogens are extremely toxic to humans, and you probably do not want them in your PCBs despite their electronic benefits. What Is a Halogen-Free Printed Circuit Board? The family of halogen elements includes chlorine, bromine, fluorine, iodine and astatine. The most important elements with respect to PCB toxicity

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How to Clean Printed Circuit Boards

How to Clean Printed Circuit Boards Printed circuit boards that are components of commonly used devices like smartphones and tablets can be subject to a wide variety of contaminants over the course of their use. There is an increasing need for services to clean PCBs that have been corrupted by contaminants but not actually physically broken. What do you use to clean circuit boards? Challenges to Circuit Board Cleaning Cleaning printed circuit boards is a very delicate process. When you are working with a printed circuit board, you are dealing with a variety of exposed components and connections that can easily be damaged if you attempt to clean the board improperly. How you will approach cleaning your printed circuit board will depend in large part on the types of contaminants you are dealing with. Contaminants you may have to clean from a printed circuit board include: How to Clean Dust

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PCB Panelization Guidelines

PCB Panelization Guidelines Automated circuit board assembly equipment often has trouble working with smaller boards, resulting in more frequent defects during the assembly process. To minimize these defects and improve throughput of the manufacturing process, many companies use a process called panelization, resulting in a PCB panel. What is a PCB panel? A PCB panel, also called a PCB array, is a single board consisting of multiple individual boards. Once assembled, the panel is then broken apart, or depanelized, into the individual PCBs during the breakout process. The benefit of the printed circuit board panelization process is a decrease in defects as automated assembly machines tend to encounter fewer problems during the assembly process. In addition, panelization also reduces cost by improving throughput. Successful PCB panelization requires multiple design specifications to work properly, including considerations surrounding panelization methods. We’ll detail these panelization methods and their specific requirements more thoroughly in

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Common Flex PCB Issues

Common Flex PCB Issues Flexible PCBs are a tremendous innovation in the world of printed circuit boards. Rather than having to adhere to a rigid structure, these printed circuit boards can be bent, shaped and twisted as need be to fit your application. Some modern applications would be impossible without them. However, as you may have discovered if you work with flex PCBs, some flexible circuit board issues can arise. Why Do Flex Printed Circuit Board Issues Happen? In most cases, flexible circuit board issues arise because the designers are used to designing rigid circuit boards, so they design flex circuit boards according to the same principles. Of course, flex circuit boards are not rigid circuit boards, and they require their own flex-friendly design. What Are Some Common Types of Flex Printed Circuit Board Issues That Occur? Some of the most common flexible circuit board issues are: Solder Mask/Coverlay Openings

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7 Ways to Reduce Your PCB Cost

How Can I Reduce the Cost of a Printed Circuit Board? Reducing the cost of printed circuit boards is really about keeping things simple and effective, designed to achieve your goals and your needs in as direct a way as possible. PCBs are usually seen as a complex dance of getting everything to fit in the smallest space or trying to space everything out as much as possible to make them easy to read. There is indeed a happy medium somewhere. You can reduce the cost of PCBs by looking for this middle ground. In this piece, we’ll present seven of those in-between spaces for reducing the cost of printed circuit boards. Reduce Complexity One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of PCBs is to create a simple board and review your design to optimize it. Look for many different design options to make sure your board is

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Guide to Pad Lift Issues on a PCB

Guide to Pad Lift Issues on a PCB What Is Pad Lifting on a Circuit Board? The pads on your printed circuit board are there so component pins can make connections to the copper plate. However, if you have lifted pads, the pins may not be able to make that connection cleanly and the component will fail. Where am I Likely to See Pad Lifting on a Circuit Board? You will most often see pad lifting on a single-sided board in the course of assembly. If you have plated-through hole boards, it is unlikely pad lifting will occur, although it is not impossible. Anytime you have the combination of extreme heat and serious physical handling, pad lifting is a possibility to consider. What Causes Pad Lifting on Printed Circuit Boards? Most commonly with single-sided boards, after the wave soldering, the heating up of the surface can lower the adhesion of

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FR4: When Can You Use It and When Can You Not

A Guide to FR4: When Can You Use It and When Can You Not Most electrical engineers and individuals involved with printed circuit boards are familiar with the material FR4. FR4 is the backbone material upon which most rigid circuit boards are built. However, many are unaware of what FR4 is, let alone why it is the most popular PCB base. Read on to learn more about FR4 printed circuit boards, such as what they are, why they are so popular and how FR4 PCB specifications compare to other options within the industry.   What Is FR4 Material? FR4, also written as FR-4, is both a name and a rating. The name is applied to the fiberglass-reinforced epoxy-laminated sheets used in printed circuit board manufacturing. However, the name also functions as a grade used to rate epoxy laminate sheets. The designation essentially indicates the base quality of a laminate sheet,

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Most Common Gerber Files Problems & Solutions

 Most Common Gerber Files Problems & Solutions Printed circuit boards are a crucial element for a wide variety of businesses, especially now in the digital age, when electronic technology is so important to many different fields. There is a significant range of different types of printed circuit boards as well, with different materials, shapes and sizes depending on the needs of a particular company or industry. PCB designers are constantly trying to find ways to develop circuit boards that are faster, stronger and more efficient. One thing all of these printed circuit boards and PCB designs have in common, however, is their reliance on quality Gerber files. Gerber files are the digital blueprints of your PCB, the layer-by-layer input for the PCB manufacturers that detail the manufacturing and fabricating process. Gerber files mistakes can be disastrous for a PCB manufacturer, leading to manufacturing errors and printed circuit boards that fail

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How to Recycle Printed Circuit Boards

How You Can Recycle Printed Circuit Boards There was a time when corporations paid little attention to the waste produced by creating their products. Today, however, we understand much more about the impact industrial waste has on the environment — and responsible companies are taking steps to reduce such waste and engage in more environmentally-conscious production practices. If you use printed circuit boards in your business, you may be interested in proper printed circuit board recycling methods. Printed circuit board methods deal primarily with the removal of copper from the board, as copper can be very valuable and it’s easy to find applications for reusing it. Why You Need Special Printed Circuit Board Recycling Methods A printed circuit board is made of many different materials, the most valuable of which is copper. When you dispose of a printed circuit board, that copper can bleed into the environment through media like

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PCB Glossary

  • Subtractive Processing

    The method of selectively removing copper from a board to form a circuit. In this case, “subtractive” refers to the method of image transfer from a phototool or image file to the copper circuit.