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The Most Comprehensive PCB Manufacturing Guide in 2020

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Wed, Dec 16, 2020

Question
How can we find a good PCB manufacturer in China? What is the manufacturing process of a multilayer PCB?

This PCB manufacturing guide explains what is PCB and prototype, What are the steps to produce PCB, PCB testing and failure analysis, and also some contents about PCB design.

What is PCB?

PCB - A dielectric board with conductive traces of electronic circuits on its surface.

It is designed for electrical and mechanical connection of various electronic components.

In contrast to surface-mounted mounting, the electrically conductive pattern on the PCB is made of foil, which is entirely located on a solid insulating base.

PCB comprises mounting holes and the contact pad for mounting pin or planar components.

Also, PCB has adapter holes for electrical connections portions of the foil, arranged on different layers of the board.

The outer side of the circuit board is usually covered with solder mask and markings.

What is the PCB Manufacturing Process?

PCB Manufacture QC.jpg


PCB manufacturing is possible by the additive or subtractive method.

The whole process of manufacturing PCB can be divided into four phases:

  • Manufacturing a blank (foil material)
  • Processing workpiece to obtain the necessary electrical and mechanical types.
  • Assembly components
  • Testing
  • Normally, the manufacturing of PCB is understood only as of the processing of a workpiece. Multilayer PCB is finished by compressing multiple single layer workpieces.

    Note
    A typical process of processing the foil material consists of several phases: drilling of transient holes, obtaining the pattern of conductors, metalizing the holes, applying a protective coating, and tinning, applying markings. 

    How to Make a circuit board

    • Photographic: This process is specifically important for the subtraction of copper from the PCB board. Photomask is a basic tool that merged with the chemical etching.
    • Lamination: Multilayer PCBs are composed of many layers by bonding and stacking together.
    • Drilling: Making the connection with each layer by making the small holes. A computerized drilling machine is used in this process.
    • Solder Plating: Soldering the electrical components on the PCB surface. Copper requires a suitable surface that is fit for this purpose.
    • PCB testing: For the sake of assistance, the nail tester and other instruments are important in the testing process.

    Making foil material

    The foil material is a flat dielectric sheet with copper foil glued to it.

    Glass fibers are usually used in insulators.

    The thickness of the dielectric is determined by the required mechanical and electrical strength, and the maximum extended receiving thickness is 1.5 mm.

    A solid sheet of copper foil is glued onto the dielectric from one or both sides. 

    The thickness of the foil is determined by the currents for which the board is designed. 

    Most distribution received a foil thickness of 18 and 35 microns.

    18 microns corresponds to ½ oz and 35 microns - 1oz.

    What are the PCB Production Methods?

    In the manufacture of boards, chemical, electrolytic or mechanical methods are used to reproduce the required conductive pattern, as well as their combinations.

    Mechanical method

    These methods include mechanically removing foil layers from a specific area using milling machines and engraving machines or other tools.

    Laser engraving

    The distribution of laser engraved printed circuit board is related to good reflection performance.

    With the development of laser engineering, industrial prototype devices based on laser began to appear.

    Chemical plating of holes

    Mechanical metallization of the holes is performed with special rivets, soldered wires, or filling the hole with conductive glue. 

    Due to the high manufacturing cost, this mechanical method is rarely used.

    It is usually suitable for extremely reliable one-piece solutions, special high-current equipment, or radio conditions.

    When the electroless plating in the foil preform is drilled, it will be metalized, and then the foil is etched to obtain pattern printing.

    Chemical plating of holes is a very complicated process, which requires very high quality and technology of chemical reagents. Therefore, amateurs cannot complete this process by themselves. After simplification, it includes the following stages:

    • Application of a conductive substrate to a dielectric hole. This substrate is very thin and fragile. Apply chemical deposition of metal from volatile compounds, such as the chloride of palladium.
    • Electrolytic or chemical deposition of copper is performed on the obtained base. At the end of the production cycle, hot tin plating is generally used to protect rather loose precipitated copper, and varnish (solder resist film) is used to protect holes.

    PCB Testing and Failure Analysis

    Enterprises with the metallographic examination, electrical testing, endoscopic examination, and thermo-mechanical analysis have made great progress in understanding quality control problems.

    It is recognized that it is necessary to make a more detailed analysis of all elements of electronic equipment.

    • Equipment that implements the thermomechanical method for studying polymers, which makes it possible to determine the glass transition and degradation temperatures of base materials;
    • Tensile testing machines for determining the ductility of galvanically deposited copper in the holes of PCBs;
    • Machines for determining the shear strength of rations;
    • Hydrostat for expert determination of the cleanliness of cleaning the boards from technological contamination;
    • Soldering tools for all kinds of analyzes;
    • Electrical measuring instruments for testing electrical insulation and conductivity;
    • Means of functional, parametric, and diagnostic control of electronic means: PCBs, printed circuit assemblies and blocks, electronic devices in general.

    Still not sure about PCB quality? Working with PCBONLINE, all of the boards will go through functional tests and aging tests which ensures high quality. PCBONLINE makes sure no inferior PCB or PCBA flows into our customer end. Below is the video of the PCBA test.

    What is a Prototype and Why Building it is Necessary?

    A prototype is not a final product. Don't expect it to look like the final product!

    A prototype is a simulation of the final product. It is an interactive layout that can be of any degree of precision.

    The main goal of prototyping is to test how consistent the user journey is and to identify obstacles that may arise in the process of interacting with the product.

    PCB Prototype.jpg

    Prototypes not only allow us to test the usability of products but also brings unexpected new ideas and make the design products to a high level.

    In the process of forming a new circuit, a schematic diagram is more important than the prototype of the printed circuit board.

    In order to avoid any mistakes in the circuit board manufacturing process, the schematic diagram is the only way to prevent most later problems.

    If the circuit design on PCB is simplified, the formation of a prototype board will become simple and easy.

    On the contrary, if the circuit is complex, making a prototype board will be a very difficult and important task.

    PCBONLINE is a one-stop advanced PCB manufacturer since 1999. They have three large PCB factories, and they support all stages of your PCB project from PCB ptototypes to mass production.

    Here are reasons to work with PCBONLINE:

    • We can manufacture and assemble any simple and complex PCBs at any volume that you need them.
    • All of our PCBs, PCBAs, and any of our other products are strictly quality controlled to be compliant with ISO, RoHS, and IPC standards.
    • We have three PCB factories with 100+ in-house R&D engineers and 500+ highly-trained technicians.
    • We can customize and generate any type of PCB and PCBA while also providing free DFT, DFM, and DFX reports.
    • We have the quickest delivery times with the fastest delivery in only 12-hours!
    • We can also provide component sourcing services as well as PCB layouts for your design requirements.
    • PCBONLINE has specialized in advanced PCB prototypes since 1999 with rich experience.

    What is PCB Designing?

    PCB design is a service to track the electrical schematic diagram provided by customers according to their specifications.

    PCB design is carried out in several stages:

    • Obtaining input information from the customer - Terms of Reference
    • Coordination of the mechanical design of the PP
    • Layer stack development, material selection
    • Preparing the component library
    • Component placement
    • Description of restrictions and routing rules, circuit properties
    • Priority wiring
    • The layout of the rest of the circuit
    • Preparing the silkscreen layer
    • Project verification
    • Development of assembly drawing for PCB and Gerber files (if necessary)

    The design of PCBs is carried out after the development of the circuit diagram of the device.

    It includes:

    The selection of the element base (selection of component shell).

    The selection of the overall design of the board (dimensions, shape, number of layers, etc.).

    Layout, component placement, routing, necessary calculations, and design documentation.

    In the design, the outline and overall dimensions must be determined first, then the fastener placement part.

    Often the geometry of the PCB is dictated by a higher-level design or a number of unified solutions used by a given enterprise.

    An important step is to determine the overall design of the PCB.

    The quality of the final design and the fundamental possibility of layout and routing depends on such parameters as the number of layers, their location, accuracy class, etc. 

    The design of the PCB has a great impact on the cost and manufacturability of products.

    A layout is a group of circuit elements and their approximate location on the surface of a PCB. 

    The layout depends on the functional purpose of circuit elements, as well as the requirements for signal integrity, electromagnetic compatibility, thermal conditions, and other physical characteristics.

    Routing runs conductors on the layers of the PCB. This process is one of the most difficult and critical.

    When performing calculations and modeling, it is determined how the developed design meets the technical requirements.

    This process can include signal integrity analysis, EMI simulation, long line calculation, thermal calculation, vibration and shock resistance, and more.

    What if you can’t design well or if you're worried about your design? You can get PCB layout service from PCBONLINE if you can't design PCB. If you can't make sure about your design, you just need to hand in your Gerber to get quotation, and we will guide you for free.

    Which is a Free PCB Designing Software?

    The Kicad software is an open-source suite for the production of electronic diagrams and printed circuits under GPL license.

    The Kicad suite is a set of four software and a project manager intended for the production of electronic boards.

    Kicad is therefore an electronic CAD suite used for the manufacture of printed circuits.

    The fact that it is under the GPL license means that it is completely free and is completely legal.

    This suite allows you to make your diagram, to generate a netlist, and to carry out the artwork with a motorway function.

    For a slightly more fun aspect, but also to have a better idea of the printed circuit that you are making, there is also a function that allows you to view your card in 3D.

    But what is most interesting is that it is in French, unlike much competing software.

    Why Choose PCBONLINE to Manufacture Your PCB?

    PCBONLINE can manufacture any kind of PCB as requested. No minimum order quantity limit. You can online order aluminum PCB, HDI PCB, flexible PCB, rigid-flex PCB, thick-copper PCB, High-frequency PCB...

    Our advantages in PCB manufacturing:

    1.Multi-factory division of labor and cooperation, advanced equipment, high production efficiency, and cost-saving.

    2.The production chain has passed multi-agency certification, and the product quality is high.( ISO9001, ISO16949, UL, CQC, SGS, and so on.)

    3.The factory is transparent, and the production live room will be launched soon for customers to watch.

    4.Provide free sample service to meet all of your needs.

    PCBONLINE’s capability:

    • Layer: 1 ~ 42
    • Laminate: normal Tg/high-Tg/lead-free/halogen-free
    • Surface finishing: OSP/HASL/LF HASL/immersion ENIG/immersion tin/immersion silver
    • Board thickness: 0.15 ~ 3.2 mm
    • Max board size: 500 × 580 mm
    • Copper thickness: (inner finish copper) 1-4oz, (outer finish copper) 1-7oz
    • Min. line width/spacing: 0.0635 mm/0.0635 mm
    • Min. CNC drilling size: 0.15 mm
    • Min. laser drilling size: 0.075 mm
    • HDI stack up: 1+N+1, 2+N+2, 3+N+3

    This blog introduced what is PCB and prototype, rough steps in PCB manufacturing, PCB testing, and PCB design, hope this will help you understand more about PCB Manufacturing, we will write more articles about PCB, welcome your visit at any time.