PCB fabrication is akin to an art form but unlike art, it’s not something catered towards the eyes of the public. Instead, it’s something that has become the backbone of modern technology. PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board and is found in nearly all modern mobile phones, appliances, electric cars, machines, computers and www.pcbnet.com. These circuit boards enable the transfer of data from one component to another and in bigger systems, they facilitate the transfer of electric charges which contain information from one circuit board to another.
The best example of a PCB is a computer’s motherboard. It connects all the working parts of a PC such as the processor, memory, power supply, and hard drive, enabling all those parts to work together in order to create a display interface on the monitor. Much simpler types of PCB are those commonly green-colored plates covered in copper patterns and soldered parts that one would see inside old electronic devices such as radios, voice recorders, and pagers.
PCB fabrication has become an art form due to the intricate attention it requires in all of its processes, producing an end result which is always near perfection. A standard PCB does not exist since each board design contains a unique function for particular product lines and is designed to perform specific functions in allocated areas. Industrial PCB fabrication has become increasingly modernized, therefore resulting in the creation of more computer-automated assembly lines than those run by human hand. However, it’s still something that can’t go perfectly without human intervention.
Designing is an indispensable part of the PCB fabrication process and is the first step of a very long procedure. One could argue that without a proper design team, all the modern machinery and experienced assembly workers are for naught. Designing a printed circuit board is not about aesthetics but instead, is about functionality. The design process determines the physical dimensions, production cost, capacity, functionality, lifespan, and overall reliability of the product.
Even the design process has become modernized and is done by an electronic engineer through a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program where schematics are drawn and each component is specified to the smallest of measurements. This is also where the working conditions are simulated with the working components digitally placed; the geometric, thermal, and environmental conditions are also taken into account. The images generated through this process are open 2-dimensional and are in bi-level vector image file format or Gerber format (.gbr). These files have become the standard file type of PCB design due to the mandate of the ICP – a key association in the world of electronics.
The image is then translated into instructions for computer-controlled machines that will take over the PCB manufacturing process. These automated machines follow those instructions to reduce, solder, drill, wash, and coat the board. They print the characteristics of the PCB, following only what they were programmed to do. Human supervision is still required to ensure a flawless process.
All the manufacturing processes are done in an extremely clean environment where all the physical components are free from contamination. Visual and electronic inspections are made throughout the fabrication process to ensure that no defective product will ever make it to the market.
The miniaturization of electronics continues to drive printed circuit boards to be made smaller, increasing market demands for densely-packed boards with enhanced capabilities. This has also enforced stricter standards from the industrial and electronic regulatory boards, which in turn resulted to more challenges for the electronic engineers and designers. Still, they continue to push through, improving their art little by little and slowly enhancing the common individual’s quality of life.