Creating, manufacturing, and delivering a quality printed circuit boards (PCB) is not a job to be taken lightly. In fact, even for PCB manufacturing companies, the task can be overwhelming and time consuming, and without proper attention to detail can easily result in missed steps or a poor end product as a result. Whether you are a current PCB assembly manufacturer or thinking of entering into the world of PCB board manufacturing, here are the steps you need to be familiar with when it comes to PCB assembly.
Step 1: Design the PCB
Typically, the PCB is ordered by a client with specific requirements. Outline these requirements accordingly, and then use them to create a blueprint design. From there, this blueprint design can be inputted into a design software, such as Extended Gerber (also known as IX274X). Using the software will allow the design to be translated to an appropriate output format, which can be read by manufacturing equipment, offering information such as the number of copper layers, solder mask content, and any other important components to be included.
Step 2: Print the Design
Once the design is completed and has been checked over to ensure it meets all the clients’ requirements, with appropriate output specifications, it is time to print the design. PCB manufacturing companies print designs on a plotter printer which makes a film of the PCB. This is essentially like a negative of the board, and each layer gets its own film. After printing, these layers of film are lined up appropriately, before having a registration hole punched through them.
Step 3: Print the Copper
Using the printed laminate from the above step, copper is then bonded onto the laminate, creating the main structure of the PCB. This copper is etched to show the blueprint, before applying a resist, which is exposed to light and washed to etch into place the pathways indicated by the blueprint.
Step 4: Remove Unneeded Copper
The PCB board manufacturing is nearing completion now, and it is time to remove unwanted copper that is no longer needed as part of the design. Afterwards, the PCB assembly manufacturer will inspect each layer of copper that has been created to ensure they meet the blueprint details.
Step 5: Assemble the Layers
By now, there are several independent layers of copper, which have been layered together. Once they pass the inspection, they are ready to be fused together using epoxy resin and metal clamps. Pressing them together on a specialized table, the layers are permanently attached before being sent through a laminating press and receiving their final seal.
From here, the set of laminated layers is fused together by a chemical, in a process known as PCB plating, before etching in the final outer layer and testing the product.
While there may be many steps, it’s nothing a qualified PCB assembly manufacturer can’t handle. If that’s who you are looking for, reach out Star Engineering to learn more.