23, September 2017: Printed circuit boards can be simply defined as pathways that have been intricately designed for allowing the smooth transfer of electricity. These circuit boards are created using metallic insertions and are used for reaching the components of an electronic device. The easy flow of electricity between its components allow the device to work fluently without unwanted interruptions. Today, there are countless applications of printed circuit boards and while the technology might seem simple enough for the users, only the printed circuit board engineers understand how complex it can be to get everything right. In this article, we take a look at some of the latest engineering innovations in printed circuit board assembly (PCBA). We will take a look at the essentials of PCBA’s design, prototype, and manufacturing.
Master Fabrication Methods and Chemistry:
We are now in the era of fabless integrated circuit (IC) companies which is why most engineers today have no clue about the methods and chemistry that goes into assembling PCBs from the design files. This lack of knowledge leads the designers to make choices that are more complex than it is necessary. More details on IC’s can found at Giltronics Associates http://www.giltronicsassociates.com/
For instance, one common mistake made by such designers is that they lay down the PCB in extremely accurate geometries, making use of orthogonal trace bends on the tight grids, and then later finding out that such a design cannot be manufactured with adequate reliability by all board shops (since they do not have the capabilities). This eventually leads to most PCBs not being able to sustain a lifetime practically.
Now if the designer had known about the fabrication methods and chemistry of PCBA then the design could have been simplified and perhaps laid down on a larger grid, making it easier and more economical to improve the reliability of the boards. Remember that it only takes a simple mistake in the design (such as a small via size, or a buried via) to make the printed circuit board completely useless. Therefore, it is essential that as a PCB designer, you master the fabrication methods and design techniques of these boards to deliver a flawless and reliable render.
Trust The Schematics:
On most occasions, when you are designing a simple printed circuit board, you will tend to ignore the schematic since you consider it to be a ‘waste of time’. However, skipping the schematic is not always advised, whether you are a novice or an intermediate PCB engineer. Developing your own layout without the schematic can drastically increase the risks of failure for the PCB, which is why we strongly advise against it.
Using the complete schematic as a reference will help you in making sure that the layout and connections to the board are complete and correct. This is because the schematic is the visual representation of the electronic circuit that you are about to build – it communicates all the information that you need to know on every level of the design. The subsections of the circuit and its components can be detailed out in multiple pages of the schematic, as well. Furthermore, the schematic will also ensure that the circuit is complete with each pin clearly represented within the schematic (so that unconnected pins are easier to find).
When laying out the PCB, it is recommended that you make use of the schematic, not just for improving the design of the board, but also making it easier to prototype and test the board for correctness – any design flaws such as a missing connection can easily and quickly be traced and corrected using the circuit’s schematic.
Current Flow And Board Geometries:
Anyone that is working in the domain of electronics acknowledges that electrons can across bottlenecks and choke points in their course. This is something that is directly used by automotive fuses in the PCB. As a designer, you can further refine the performance of a board by eliminating these bottlenecks and choke points. One innovation for doing this is by manipulating the shape (S-shape, V-bend, U-bend, etc.) and the thickness of the automotive fuse such that it melts upon overload at a choke point. However, one common mistake that some designers make here is that in order to avoid a choke point in the design, they end up creating another similar choke point. For instance, if you use a 90-degree bend then it can create a choke point in the circuit, too, and it is better to make use of two quick 45-degree bends, instead. Keep a keen eye out for bottlenecks and choke points and you can calibrate the design for improved performance and reliability.
Silvers are a failure in the manufacturing of printed board circuits that can lead to a waste of assembly resources and time. For understanding silvers, we need to understand the chemical etch process first. The chemical etch process is carried out during the manufacturing for dissolving unwanted copper, but if you apply the process for dissolving extremely thin or long, silver-like elements from the board then these can detach as small chunks before they dissolve. These chunks of silver can then float in the chemical from where they can end up on another printed circuit board, especially if you are batch manufacturing the boards.
A similar risk is also present when you want the silver to stay attached to your printed circuit board. The silver component is usually thin enough that the chemical bath will partially detach it from the board. This will leave the silver flopping around (since it is now partially attached to the board), and this can eventually lead to the silver shortening out the traces on the same printed circuit board. These ‘silvers’ are manufacturing faults that can either be improved by altering the chemical etch process during manufacturing, or by simply altering the design of your PCB.
When designing, if you avoid leaving out a narrow and thin areas of copper and keep the width of these areas just above the manufacturer’s minimum area then the design should be able to avoid such manufacturing failures.
When you are mindful of these latest innovations in PCBA’s design, prototype, and manufacturing, you can easily assemble reliable and high-performance PCBs for a project. Keep in mind that you should always be well informed about the design process, make use of schematics for designing, be careful about bottlenecks and choke points, and avoid silvers for ensuring a professional-quality of PCBs.
The Giltronics Associates’ design team is at the fore front in providing Electronics Manufacturing. Giltronics Associates’ design is actively seeking to partner up on new and existing projects to cut help design & manufacturing cost in Electronics Manufacturing design, prototypes. Their engineering team can design in new cost cutting materials and enhance the electronics to overcome your competitors. Contact Giltronics Associates today here.
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