Printed circuit boards are an integral part of many electronic devices out there. If you are planning on buying a PCB, you should know more about the designing process.
That way, you can secure that the board will perfectly fit your desired application. Additionally, you will optimize the cost and optimize the price of the board.
Take a look at our detailed guide on what you should know about PCB design and manufacturing, and discover the best manufacturer on the market!
- 1 1、Basic PCB Components Overview
- 2 2、Design Process
- 3 3、Manufacturing Process
- 4 4、How to Choose the Right Manufacturer and Order Online
- 5 5、The Bottom Line
1、Basic PCB Components Overview
Before we can talk about what you need to know about PCB design and manufacturing, we will tell you a bit about the basic components of every printed circuit boards. Take a look at the list below to discover what you should consider when deciding on the features of your PCB.
Image 1: PCB Design & Manufacturing
Each circuit board contains layers and the number of layers you will select depends on your desired application. The general rule is that the PCB gets more complex, the more layers you pick. That is why it may take a bit more time to construct boards with more layers, although reputable companies will still manufacture them quickly.
Here are some common choices that people go with when assembling their PCB:
•Two layers – a relatively easy to make board used for simple products, such as toys;
•Four layers – a solution that many people use for the Internet of Things (IoT) items;
•Six to eight layers – you will see these in tech-related devices, such as smartwatches and smartphones.
The manufacturers will also accept boards with a single layer as long as you are certain that you are looking for the simplest solution. You can also go with more than eight layers, but make sure that your application needs so many. Otherwise, you are paying more for no valid reason.
1.2.Size and Thickness
The next thing you will want to decide is the size and thickness of your board. As for the size, the only important factor to consider is that it perfectly fits your application. That is why you should consider the size of your product and measure the space where you plan to place the PCB.
It is vital that you accurately measure the dimensions as there is not a lot of room for a mistake if you want your product to work properly.
When it comes to thickness, it can vary from about 0.5mm up to 2.5mm. You should consider your application and decide accordingly, but the average thickness is around 1.2-1.8mm.
1.3. Other Things to Consider
Here is the list of other components and features you may consider when ordering a PCB:
•Material – the common choices include standard FR4, FR4-TG170, and halogen-free materials.
•Color – you can have your solder mask in red, green, yellow, blue, etc.
•Surface finish – lead-free or leaded HASL, different types of immersion silver, gold and tin are all available.
•Copper weight – you can choose the required thickness per layer, and it can vary from 0.5 ounces to four ounces. Copper is used because of its high conductivity.
Image 2: PCB Design & Manufacturing
The design process starts with circuit design. The first thing you need to do is to come up with a document that is called a schematic. You can imagine it as a blueprint that will show all components in detail, and how they will communicate with each other.
You design circuitry on a PC by using professional software, such as Quadcopter, Altium, ExpressPCB, or many others available online. Keep in mind, most of these tools are the paid version, which means you will have to buy them if you want to design the PCB yourself.
Now, what you need to know about PCB design and manufacturing are the specifications for each component you want to include on your board. The schematic can be of great help for the next step, which is the PCB layout.
Image 3: PCB Design & Manufacturing
2.1. Allocating Components to Their Locations
Each component needs to have a precise location to place it during the manufacturing process. That is why creating a layout of your board is a vital step of PCB design. It may be a tricky task because you need to find the best way to fit all components and explain how to connect them. That is why it is more difficult to assemble a PCB that has more layers.
The majority of designers go with the tactic of separating different areas for components of various purposes. Power supply-related components go in one section, audio output in a different area, and so on. Grouping is vital as it can save space and keep noise and interference under control.
It is important to consider the position of LEDs, connectors, audio jacks, and other items that are vital for user experience. You want to maximize the usability so that you can use the PCB effortlessly. The final step is producing a Gerber file, which is considered a standard format in the printed circuit board manufacturing.
You may think designing a PCB is easy, but it is tricky to place all the components correctly. You need to avoid interference and other potential issues while maximizing user experience, and that is reason enough to let the job to a professional company.
Once you have the design of your PCB ready, it is time to manufacture it. The easiest way to do this is to send the Gerber file to the manufacturer and let them do their magic.
They will use the layout to assemble the PCB and turn the idea into reality. If you choose a professional manufacturer, the chances are they will have all the required materials ready. That will eliminate the need to order the materials and wait for their delivery. Instead, they can immediately proceed to manufacture.
3.1. Mounting PCB Components
The primary task during the assembly process is to mount the components on the surface of the board. The following two methods are used to do that:
•Surface mount technology (SMT) – it is extremely convenient when you need to manufacture a high number of PCBs. Reliable and quick professional tools handle the mounting to ensure there is no room for human error while accelerating the process.
•Through-hole – some prefer sticking to the method of manually mounting components to the surface of the board, but this often takes more time than SMT.
It is interesting to note that SMT doesn't support all components. If the item you choose is not a standard size or some other way, you may have to install the component manually. That is why the companies often use the combination of the above methods.
When the time comes for soldering, the manufacturers will resort to one of the following:
•Reflow – this technique is great for making components connect to the board permanently.
•Wave – this type of soldering is convenient when mounting the components manually.
•Iron – mass manufacturers rarely use this soldering form.
Finally, the manufacturer will probably manufacturer only a sample of the board to test its quality. After thorough testing and necessary modifications, mass manufacturing will start.
4、How to Choose the Right Manufacturer and Order Online
We now covered the basics of what you need to know about PCB design and manufacturing. You may even try to assemble a DIY printed circuit board yourself now. However, it is not recommended to do so， because you will lose a lot of time, and the quality will be questionable.
If you want to achieve the highest possible quality of your PCBs, it is important to get in touch with a professional manufacturer. That way, you will ensure that the board is a perfect fit for your product and that you integrated a durable and long-lasting solution.
Image 5: PCB Design & Manufacturing
Factors to Consider When Choosing a PCB Manufacturer
Here are some details you may want to keep in mind when deciding on a manufacturer for your printed circuit board needs:
•PCB types – aside from standard rigid printed circuit boards, the manufacturer should be ready to design flexible PCBs if you need them.
•Experience – skill, and knowledge are important, but the experience is crucial as it enables the engineering team to respond to any challenge and complete any PCB order regardless of the complexity.
•Ordering process – it should be easy to contact the company, get all the necessary information, and place your order.
•Delivery time – the timeframe for delivery may vary on the PCB assembly complexity, but a reliable manufacturer will ensure to complete the order as soon as possible.
4.1Who Is the Best PCB Manufacturer on the Web?
Based on the above criteria, it is easy to determine that OurPCB fulfills all the requirements you may have from a printed circuit board manufacturer.
For starters, they have been around for more than a decade, which gives them the necessary experience to fulfill any order. OurPCB’s engineering team has been working in the industry for years, and they use only state-of-the-art machines in their factory.
Thanks to the modern equipment and skilled staff, OurPCB can assemble both rigid and flexible PCBs for you. They allow you to choose all the details of your PCB, such as the number of layers, copper thickness, and other details.
The ordering process is simple, and it only takes eight hours or less to receive a quote on your order. That means you can place your order quickly, and the company will ensure that your PCBs are manufactured and delivered in the shortest possible timeframe.
Image 6: PCB Design & Manufacturing
5、The Bottom Line
We believe that this article covered all the details on what you need to know about PCB design and manufacturing. As you can see, the entire process is a bit tricky, especially if you are not an expert. That is why the wisest move you can make is to hire an experienced manufacturer.
OurPCB has a long list of satisfied clients over the years, and that is their best recommendation. Whether you need only a couple of simple boards or a large number of complex PCBs, they are ready to complete your project and exceed your expectations.