From a printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing supplier’s point of view, often we are consulted about design and layout at the concept phase. Over the past many years, we have seen an increase in customers asking to assist with design, layout, and modifications to the circuit board. From this repeat request, we developed an engineering team to make it happen.
When it comes to printed circuit boards (PCBs), the bare board is always where customers look to cut costs. Unfortunately, we often see this request after the design has been completed and we have the Gerber files in hand to quote the printed circuit board.
For all printed circuit boards (PCBs), the main component is the base laminate material. Choosing what you need or want to use is not as simple as it sounds. There are many options out there and many flavors that can be used but how do you know what to pick and how do you note it as my item of choice on the fabrication package?
During the manufacturing of printed circuit boards (PCBs), a lot of attention is focused on how tools and processes are handled to avoid many common quality issues such as brittle joints, cold joints, and voids. Voids consist of an empty space somewhere along the PCB where not enough of a certain material was added. If the voiding issue is not addressed, then the entire PCB may need to be scrapped.
Not all printed circuit board (PCB) materials are created equal. In fact, to say there is an equivalent for any is untrue. Although, they are all in line with each other for basic attributes and are close but not exact. These many different flavors are also not always available; some come with a steep cost, a high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ,) and a long lead time.
As the printed circuit board’s physical size became smaller in one or both directions, it quickly became an issue for both the raw PCB supplier and the contract manufacturer to manage the parts on certain equipment. Processes like routing, electrical test, and packaging added cost to production for either time or scrap. Fallout was an issue that recovery was not possible.
When we look at where we are today vs. 1980 or earlier with technology, it is truly amazing. Just think about an appliance, for example, the household refrigerator/freezer. It used to be that you opened the door, looked inside, found what was needed, and closed it. I can hear my parents yelling, “shut the door,” like all the cold is coming out and everything will spoil. Settings were cold/coldest on a dial you turned.
Printed circuit board (PCB) production has used standard panel sizes, such as 18x24 inches, to produce multiple PCBs at the same time, along with several other panel standards. A panel containing single format PCBs typically would use routing as the method of removing the single pieces from the master size.
What is a void in the printed circuit board (PCB) world? A void is an un-plated area within the hole wall of the PCB drilled plated hole. Voids in hole barrels can be equally problematic in all types of PCBs. The number of layers contained within the PCB plays a part in the cost of the completed circuit board. The more layers within the card the more cost is added for manufacturing. However, a two-layer part can also be expensive to scrap.
Dating back to 1952, we are industry leaders and experts in all things printed circuit board (PCB) related, rigid PCBs, flexible circuits, and rigid-flex circuit boards combined, we know all the options and the difficulties in the fabrication processes. In this blog, we will focus on flex and rigid-flex PCBs what you should know and what to look for regarding the design and layout, as well as the importance of a successful data set and what is needed to prevent delays in engineering and manufacturing.