The world is awash with the digital revolution, something that incorporates computer codes and electronics. Because of this, electronic engineering and design become pivotal for any tech advances. But can you talk of electronic design and engineering without factoring in a printed circuit board (PCB)? Therefore, it becomes crucial to understand what it all entails, the methods of creating one, and where you can get such PCBs. So why not dig in and look at what it all entails besides how you can create one.
Definition of PCB
PCB, an abbreviation of the printed circuit board, implies a board that electrically and mechanically connects electronic components through conductive pads, tracks, and other attributes etched from singular or more layered sheets of copper laminations between or on sheets of substrate that proves non-conductive.
PCBs exist in different forms, and this often depends on the mechanisms used to develop them. An excellent example includes the EAGLE PCB that uses the EAGLE technology in creating the PCB. Additionally, such printed circuit boards get manufactured by diverse companies across the world. As a result, the quality and price of the PCB often differ with the company manufacturing, assembling, or testing the PCB. Therefore, if you want an excellent PCB, it would prove better not to look further from the RayMing PCB & Assembly Company.
Creation of Printed Circuit Boards
PCBs prove such a common aspect for electronic design and engineering that most people often forget to understand what it all implies. But since we have gotten that out of the way, it becomes crucial to comprehend how to create one. Before, circuit boards entailed a connection of point-to-point wiring, a laborious process that often led to short-circuiting incidences whenever the insulations wore off. However, with time, the tech moved to integrated circuits and silicon, which saw a decrease in cost and the size of the circuit boards.
Understanding how to create a printed circuit board becomes instrumental in knowing what components make up a PCB. So why not delve into this first before proceeding to the PCB creation?
Components of a PCB
A printed circuit board contains four main components: the substrate (FR4), copper, soldermask, and silkscreen.
- Substrate (FR4). The substrate or FR4, the base material, comprises fiberglass, and it provides the PCB its solid core through its thickness and rigidity. However, it becomes vital to note that other PCB substrates can include high-temperature and flexible plastic like the Kapton or equivalent.
The thickness of the PCB substrate differs, and often this can range from the 1.6mm of the SparkFun products to the 0.8mm thickness of the LilyPad boards.
- Copper. The copper layer comes as a thin foil that gets laminated into the board with an adhesive and heat. The copper layer can be applied to both sides for the double-sided PCB, while a single layer applies to the one-sided and less expensive PCB. However, for the double-sided board, the copper layer can range from one to an excess of sixteen layers. The thickness of copper gets specified as ounces for every square foot.
- Solderrmask. It comprises the immediate layer resting on the copper and provides the PCB its green color. The soldermask aims to insulate copper traces, especially from accidental brushes or contact with metallic substances, conducive bits, or solder. It also assists the user to correctly soldier the right spots and limit solder jumpers. Please remember that the soldermask can also come in other colors, as green often proves the prevailing color.
- Silkscreen. It encompasses the white layer incorporated into the soldermask. It adds the numbers, symbols, and letters to the printed circuit board to permit easier comprehension of the board besides assembly.
Now that you understand the different components that make up a PCB, we can now delve into the PCB creation process.
Creating Your Printed Circuit Board
Are you an electronics designer with a unique design of which you want to create a PCB but lack the technical wherewithal to do it? If so, then consider the following steps to create a functional PCB.
- Assemble all the materials and tools you will need for the PCB. Here, you have to get a flat iron, mini-drill, latex glove, laser printer, and some form of eye protection. Additionally, get the required materials such as glossy/ magazine paper, etching solution, marker (fine-tipped), PCB board, sanding paper, a cloth piece, and a ruler.
- Design your PCB board. You can accomplish this in diverse ways, though it becomes crucial to develop a PCB layout using a good PCB design program such as the EAGLE editor. However, if you possess a layout (PCB) already, you can skip this process. Additionally, you can write whatever design you fancy straight on the PCB board, especially if you do not plan to print.
- Print your printed circuit board layout. You have to ensure that you use the laser printing technology (laser printer), though a photocopy can also work. However, you must use the magazine or glossy paper for printing purposes.
- Iron the PCB layout after printing. After finishing the printing process, you have to iron your PCB layout using the ordinary laundry iron. It will transfer the ink onto the printed circuit board. However, take care and ensure that your iron’s set temperature reflects the thickness of your paper. If too thick, then use the maximum temperature and vice versa when your paper proves thin.
- Rub the paper to remove it from the board. Here, you must take maximum care to ensure the ink remains on the board as you rub the paper off the board. The best way to go about this entails soaking the PCB board in water for about five minutes to ensure the smooth removal of the paper.
- Saw off any excess board area before sanding the edges. Please get rid of any excess board space by sawing it off using a small metal saw. It would help if you then smoothened the edges by sanding them with fine sandpaper. It will give your board an accomplished, smooth look.
- Clean the PCB board and restore it. Unfortunately, some paper bits are bound to remain as much as you have rubbed off the paper from the PCB board. For this reason, you have to get rid of the paper pieces by using a cutter tip or compass end, or toothpick. If you remove any ink during this process, you have to ensure the ink gets restored by using a ruler and a marker.
- Etch your PCB board. The next stage involves the etching of the board, and here, you have to use an etching solution such as the typical Ferric Chloride. Pour out the etching solution into a plastic container (avoid metal containers) and insert the PCB board to sit for around forty-five minutes. Please ensure it doesn’t take any longer than this to prevent etching of the ink-protected area.
- Rinse the board. You then have to rinse your PCB board using tap water. Here, take maximum precaution by using plastic gloves, plastic tweezers, etc., to protect your equipment from rust.
- Remove the remaining ink. Firstly, try and brush off the left-over ink using laundry soap, especially after you etch the PCB board to reveal the copper segments. Additionally, you can also opt to clean it using fine and small sandpaper. It will give it a shiny finish.
- Drill the holes. It comprises the second last step in the PCB creation. Here, you have to drill the PCB board using a mini-drill. Please ensure that you rinse the board afresh with tap water upon the completion of the drilling process. Also, try and ensure that the drilling takes place on the side containing the copper (copper layout) acts as the drilling guide.
- Once you finish the drilling process, clean the board and solder all the components to make it functional.
As clearly discerned from the PCB creation process, the process proves an arduous task and one that the electronic designer has to prove extremely patient with. So if you need plenty of PCB designs or feel bewildered by the PCB creation process, then you can order the product service from the RayMing PCB & Assembly Company.
The company is based in China and deals in manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, and testing of different types of PCB. For instance, they can manufacture Eagle PCBs for you besides fabricating diverse PCBs. Fabrication entails multi-layer PCB, Rogers PCB, Flexible PCB, HDI PCB, Teflon PCB, RF PCB, Isola PCB, etc.
Additionally, the company proves reliable when it comes to manufacturing customized PCB for its clientele. If you want assembly services besides other PCB services, then you can rely on the company for turn-key and partial turn-key PCB services. The company takes care of the whole process, including testing, component procurement, final assembly, and manufacturing when doing a full turn-key process. However, for part turn-key, it allows the customer to offer specific components and the PCB, as it handles the rest.
RayMing PCB & Assembly guarantees a reliable customer support service that ensures quick responses to your queries besides guaranteeing on-time delivery. So if you need PCB services or products and do not fancy yourself creating one, this company exists to serve your PCB needs.
Printed circuit boards act as a vital component in the functioning of any electronic device. Therefore, if you have a novel electronic design idea, then creating a corresponding PCB becomes integral. Further, if you lack any ideas on how to go about your PCB design, then RayMing PCB & Assembly exist for this very purpose. So good luck!