The electronics market has witnessed tremendous growth, resulting in higher demand for Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). In a nutshell, a PCB is a flat insulating material, which serves as the building block of most electronic devices used in the modern-day. Although PCBs are rather complex, here are a few basic things you should know when assembling one.
Applying the Solder Paint
The first step of assembling a PCB is applying the solder paste to the required areas. For this step, you can use an applicator to ensure that all parts are even. While at it, you need to ensure that you apply just the right amount of solder paint.
Placing the PCB Components
The second step in the PCB assembly process is placing the components, which is usually automated. A pick and place machine places the components directly onto the desired printed circuit board’s surface from the dispenser.
You might be curious how the pick and place machine knows where exactly to place which component. The process starts with the designer creating a file, which is then fed to a robot. The robot, in turn, performs the necessary operation. For the components to hold onto the surface permanently, some pick and place machines add glue drops. It is worth noting that robots haven’t always been around. Before then, technicians would manually place the components on the board surface using tweezers, which was utterly exhausting.
The PCB goes through another soldering process, whose aim is to secure the components onto the board further and create joints. During the process, which is commonly referred to as reflow soldering, the PCB board moves along a conveyor belt into a giant oven heated to 250oC. The high temperature melts the solder, after which the board is cooled to solidify the components.
Quality Control and Inspection
Like any other process, there is a chance for misalignment and other errors, which need to be inspected before the product hits the market. Usually, there are three types of inspecting: manual, optical, and X-ray inspection.
After inspection, the PCB board also needs to be tested before packaging. To test the PCB, technicians supply the board with electrical signals and power at particular pins and output. The technicians then verify parameters like current and voltage. Upon passing these tests, the PCB is ready for cleaning and packaging. You will want to work with a PCB shipping company to ensure proper packaging and shipping protocols.
As technology advances, technicians are finding ways to load more data and energy on tinier PCB chips. Consequently, the process is getting increasingly complex, though the basic principles remain in place.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.