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Printed Circuit Board Assembly & Processes

Printed circuit board assembly is the process of soldering electronic components onto a printed circuit board. They mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from one or more sheet layers of copper laminated onto and/or between sheet layers of a non conductive substrate. Soldering of all components in the proper locations is very crucial when it comes to the correct functioning of a PCB. Further, the process of soldering the components requires accuracy and precision.

PWB and PWC

Printed circuit boards are physical support of electronic components. They act as connections between different parts of the devices. They got popular in the early 1950s and still holds an important place in modern-day electronics. Over the years, it has become so advanced that it is referred to as printed wiring board (PWB) and printed wiring card (PWC).

PCB assembly is a complicated, multi-step process that requires specialized tools. The first step involves mounting all surface-mounted components onto the PCB. The second step involves inserting and soldering all through-hole components onto the PCB. Both steps may be performed manually or by automated equipment.

The simple PCBs may consist of only a few components – for example, a simple through-hole board may have transistors, capacitors, diodes and resistors mounted on one side with wire links on the other side. A complex PCB such as a motherboard may have components mounted on both sides.

Ordering a PCB

A layout designer using the design software make a PCB. After the designing process, the bare PCB is manufactured using a CNC machine. The components are then assembled on the PCB and soldered to make a complete printed circuit board assembly.

The manufacturing of bare PCBs and assembling of electronic components are two different processes. Together they form PCBA. When ordering a PCB there are two options available:

PCB + Components:

The manufacturer will assemble your components on your PCBs before shipping them to you.

PCB Only:

The manufacturer will only produce the PCBs and ship them to you without any component attached to them. This option is more viable when you want to do the component assembly yourself or when you want to outsource it to another company that specializes in PCBA.

The omnipresence of PCBs

PCBAs are omnipresent. Today, almost all types of consumer electronics, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, etc. have them.

PCB assembly is a complex process because it needs the soldering of all components precisely. Placement is important and all the correct parts of the board should comply with it. Soldering is another important thing and all connections should comply with it to ensure the electrical current flows correctly throughout the entire device.

As mentioned afore, printed circuit board assembly, also known as PCBA, is the process of soldering or assembly of electronic components to a PCB or printed circuit board. There are many different types of PCBAs, but 2 of them are the most popular i.e. through-hole and surface mount (SMT) technologies.

Through-hole or thru-hole technology is more popular in the case of manufacturing electronic products that can bear high voltage and high stress such as transformers. Thru-hole technology creates a robust product.

SMT or surface mount technology is more popular when it comes to mass production of electronic products at a faster pace. Or when there is a space issue on the board.

In today’s world both assembling methods have their own place.

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