A Beginner’s Guide to the PCB Assembly Process | Best Proto


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You wouldn’t be able to live your life without PCB assemblies (PCBA). Printed circuit boards are a vital component of the electronics we use every day. Without them, we couldn’t enjoy televisions, mobile devices, computers, or make use of medical devices like X-ray machines and portable heart and glucose monitors. The first PCB was invented in 1936 in Austria to operate a radio system. The technology was picked up in the US by the military and has been advancing ever since.

PCB Assemblies are built on non-conductive material (often fiberglass) and can be single-sided, double-sided, or multilayered. They can also be flexible or rigid and contain both flexible and rigid sections.

The PCB Assembly process is extremely important. Designing the board can be very complex as well. The bottom line is that your board has to be reliable, so the assembly process must be correct and precise.

These are the steps that are necessary to assemble a printed circuit board. It should be noted that surface mount technology is used as opposed to the older method of inserting components through holes in the board. Just as it sounds, it means that components are mounted directly onto the circuit board.

  1. Apply Solder Paste

    – This used to be somewhat like a screen-printing process in that solder is distributed through holes so that it is only applied to component pads. It’s a very meticulous and challenging process done with the aid of a solder screen.  Nowadays, we utilize a much more precise method of solder deposition.  We affectionately refer to it as a “jetter” since it isn’t too far removed from an inkjet printer type device.

  2. Pick and Place

    – After the solder is deposited, the desired components can be placed into their positions on the board. The purpose of the solder paste is to hold them in position but small amounts of glue can also be used where necessary.

  3. Solder the Components

    – After everything is where it needs to be, the soldering process begins and in most cases go through a reflow oven with multiple zones that gradually heat the boards and solder paste and at the correct point in the process, the oven temperature rises beyond the melting point of the specific solder type, the solder reflows and then the boards pass through a cooling zone whereby it is still hot but gradually and carefully let’s the boards cool down to ensure a good and reliable solder joint.

  4. Inspection

    – This is a crucial step. An engineer checks the placement of the components and verifies that they are present, in the right location and with the correct orientation per the customer’s file.  

  5. Test

    – It’s time to connect the board and see if it performs properly.  We can work with customers to develop a siple power-up test or a functional test or just meter-out certain areas to verify they work and were built correctly.

Circuit board assemblies have become a necessary part of our everyday life for computers and other electronics and if you are manufacturing an electronic product, you may well need PCB Assembly services like those provided by BESTProto. A proven and established provider of PCB assembly services can be a valuable partner in helping you bring your products and ideas to life.

 



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