One very challenging aspect when it comes to the process of electronic manufacturing is PCB assembly. You have to do it properly whether in medical equipment, digital watches, Smartphones, or industrial machines.
The best part of this is that this article covers everything you need regarding the PCB assembly process. We will be focusing on what PCB assembly is, the applications, assembly process, and more. Please let’s begin by explaining what PCB assembly is.
What is PCB Assembly?
Have you discovered that boards usually have several components which are attached firmly? What are they?
The truth is that so many think they’re just for decoration. This isn’t true! In the absence of these components, the PCB cannot function independently. This means that each of these components is significant and vital to the board’s functioning.
Speaking technically, when you detach any of the components, the operation or functioning of the printed circuit board or advanced circuits is impaired. The embedding of these elements is seen via a unique manufacturing process. Therefore, this is a process we call PCB Assembly Process.
Any printed circuit board that has passed through this entire process is an assembled printed circuit board. Looking closely at the circuit board, some copper lines become visible. This is what we call traces. Although they are tiny, they serve a very important purpose.
The traces help in linking the connectors and all the components of the printed circuit boards electrically amongst themselves. Printed circuit boards serve both simple and complex functions.
In contrast to other devices, size isn’t important here. The fact is that some are thin and tiny, yet they keep functioning in an optimal way and run different complicated tasks.
What are the Processes Involved in PCB Assembly?
There are several processes involved in Prototype PCB assembly. Let us consider them.
There are three main assembly processes here:
- Surface Mount
- Through Hole
- Mixed Technology
In contrast to the through hole technology, the process of SMT is distinct when it comes to manufacturing efficiency. Surface mount technology features the whole automatic process of mounting. This begins from the printing of the solder paste, then to the pick & place, and lastly to the reflow soldering. Let’s quickly consider the important steps here.
Solder Paste Printing
This involves the application of the solder paste on a circuit board using the solder paste printer. In order to ensure that the solder printing is accurate where you are mounting the components, a template can be useful. The sheet is the solder screen or the stencil.
Due to the fact that the majority of manufacturers deal with products of high-quality, there’s a need to inspect these products immediately after the solder paste printing.
Mounting of the Components
Once you are through with the printing of the solder paste, then the PCB is automatically sent into the pick and place machines.
In this case, with the solder paste, the components as well as the integrated circuits are mounted on the pads. The components will be installed expertly on the circuit board making use of the machine’s component reels. For this process, component reels serve a very important process.
Their rotation helps in supplying parts to machines which attach pieces subsequently to circuit boards.
After the parts are all mounted on the board, the next step is passing the PCB to the furnace. This should have a temperature of about 223 degrees. This high heat allows the easy melting and liquefying of the solder paste.
After the application of severe heat, the board is allowed to cool down. This makes the solder solidify firmly, thereby binding the components of the SMD onto the board.
For the thru hole, holes are inserted into the PCBs. After this pin through hole components are then inserted. You can achieve all these through soldering. Thru hole involves these steps.
Placing the components
Make sure you check the design documents of the circuit board. Working with this, arrange and also fix the components.
Check and rectify
This second step involves the plugging of the components and boards together. If you encounter any issue using the method of soldering; that’s if there’s any inconvenience or disturbance.
This step, wave soldering can only be achieved at high temperatures. This is the only way that you can overcome the issue. You can achieve this through circuit board movement in liquid solder through waving.
For this, both surface mount and through-hole technologies are used in solving complexity. They are used for the following situations.
Single sides mixed
These procedures such as printing making use of solder paste, placing the parts of the surface mount devices, then reflow soldering, placing through thru-hole technology, as well as wave soldering, respectively are very important to achieve.
Double sides mixed
For this, the process of PCB assembly can be achieved in both ways either without adhesive or with adhesive. The adhesive step of the SMT is optional.
You will use the entire steps for the single side as well as use among the two sides. For non-adhesive, there’s no need to follow the SMT adhesive step.
PCB Assembly Capabilities
One measure that PCB assembly must accommodate is lead-free construction and production of electronics, as well as RoHS compliance. In this section, we will be considering the well-known PCB assembly capabilities.
Flex PCB Assembly
Suitable assemblies should be able to design different PCBs. One of these is the flex PCB. Flex PCBs are well-known because they can be bent through many angles. They also eliminate errors in pcb manufacturing and they can assume different designs and shapes.
Let me remind you of what a PCB stencil is. During soldering, there is a printer for the solder paste, whereby the board is covered by a clear template. The template ensures that this solder paste remains accurately on the right locations where integrated circuits and components should be mounted.
The template is called PCB Stencil. You can also call it solder screen.
Prototype PCB Assembly
Reliable PCB manufacturers ought to be able to offer budget-friendly and quick prototype assembly. Providing these services offers the following benefits:
- The designs’ maintenance is confidential
- Freedom to experiment and create quickly and at lower costs
- Lowers the R & D time, which leads to quick time to the market
- Provides chances of adjusting, reworking, tuning, and trimming the PCBs
Component sourcing has brought lots of benefits, which includes line efficiency. In addition, it allows more time for project engineering, designing, and PCB manufacturing.
Components sourcing involves procuring the parts from a well known certified electronic components distributor. It also deals with acquiring parts from endorsed dealers and channels.
Turnkey PCB Assembly
This assembly process means that the dealer will handle everything regarding PCB solution, picking, components procurement, placing of components, and manufacturing.
What are PCB Assembly Services?
Now, with all the knowledge you have acquired on PCB assembly, the next question that will probably be on your mind should be where can I order PCB assembly service?
The good news is that we will be answering this question regarding PCB assembly service right in this section. This is a sensitive issue that must not go wrong. Sure you want a company that offers pcb assembly services that meets your demands and specifications, most especially board quality. This should be the major objective of companies offering PCB assembly services.
Below are some steps you consider
Work with a good and reasonable timeframe
Make sure you comprehend what this company will deliver before you go ahead to sign a non disclosure agreement with them. Know the minimum order, lead time, and the entire time needed for the pcb prototype assembly.
Consider the experience of the Company in offering PCB assembly services
Note that exposure and experience in PCB assembly is very important. You can check the company’s website for the following.
- Batch sizes preferred buy the company
- How long this company has been functioning
- Firms they have partnered with previously
- Products they have manufactured
- How long they have been involved in THT or SMT or both
Access the Quality
Choose a company that offers high-quality jobs. You can order something small to see if their quality matches what you expect.
Is there Customer Support?
Another aspect is having customer support. Does this company offering PCB assembly have good customer support? Are they available to assist customers with PCB assembly or to fix any technical issue? Will they be flexible enough to work with your timeline?
Compare the costs
You should get great value for any money you spend and also it has to be at an affordable price. Finance is important and so also quality is very important. Therefore, make sure you compare the costs and also ensure the quality before making any move.
Beware of this warning signs and
- Longer time for project completion
- Exaggerated pricing
- Inflexibility or rigidity of this company to seek answers to problems relating to your work
- Poor communication and unresponsiveness
Here comes the end of the article on printed circuit board assembly. You now have what it takes to be involved in PCB assembly. Make sure you refer to this guide at all times. If you need a reliable company for your PCB assembly, contact us at Rayming PCB & Assembly and get an instant quote.