In front-end engineering, we must gather as much manufacturing information as possible from the printed circuit board data we receive. This includes customer service notes, customer emails, and the general spec, if available. Usually there is enough information to release a printed circuit board (PCB) package to manufacturing. However, I have found many gray areas that haunt our engineering department.
As today’s printed circuit boards (PCBs) become smaller, they use fewer and fewer through hole components. It is increasingly difficult to justify allocating precious space for relatively large plated through component holes and their accompanying lands. Instead, it is necessary to use surface mounted components wherever possible. As surface mount technology becomes increasingly prevalent, the majority of the plated through holes on most modern PCB designs end up being vias.
Among the most common questions printed circuit board suppliers receive are those dealing with production capabilities. Customers often suspect that they are about to design-in a feature which may be either at or outside their fabricator’s limits. Fearing that their non-standard feature may add cost to their product, they inquire to find out just how much pain they are about to cause.
Over the past several years LED based products have become increasingly popular, and as a result, so too have metal core printed circuit boards. The automobile and lighting sectors have both embraced the technology, as have consumers, given an LED based light can be about 5x cheaper to run than a comparable incandescent unit. Even compact fluorescents have slightly higher operating costs and they cannot compete with the smallest LEDs when it comes to efficient use of space.
Printed circuit board (PCB) fabricators receive dozens of requests for quotations (RFQs) every day. While many requests have moved to more convenient online quoting formats such as our in-house application InstantPCBQuote, many customers still send requests the old way via either files or alternate forms of describing their manufacturing requirements.
Selecting PCB core thickness becomes a problem when a printed circuit board (PCB) fabricator receives a request for quotation of a multilayer design and the material requirements are stated either incompletely or not at all. This sometimes occurs because the combination of PCB core materials used is not critical to performance; if the overall thickness requirement is met, the end user may not care about the thickness or type of each layer.
All customers have questions when it comes to PCB laminate materials, so we took some of the most common questions and put together a helpful FAQ to bring you answers and solutions faster.
The reason printed circuit boards (PCBs) require a surface finish rather than being left as simply bare copper is because while copper is an excellent conductor, leaving it exposed will cause it to oxidize and deteriorate over time. The increased exposure will cause the PCB to fail much sooner than expected.
When you’re in the process of designing a new product, the last thing you are thinking about is the how the product is going to be packaged for transit. However, failure to prepare for and understand electronics packaging regarding how both your components and your finished unit are going to ship is a costly oversight.
I can remember the first ‘incident’ of black pad, years ago, when Epec started to use the electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) process. We didn’t notice the issue at the time, as it is not evident on the bare board, but received the complaint from assembly as it was later identified on completed assemblies.