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PCB Vs PCBA - What Are the Differences Between Them?

PCBONLINE Team

Mon, Sept 05, 2022

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PCB vs PCBA

PCB and PCBA are two basic terms in the electronics world. If you work or study in the electronics world, you must come across the two abbreviated words. What is a PCB? What is a PCBA? And what are the differences between them? You can find answers from the below content.

Part 1: Differences between PCB and PCBA

To begin with, a PCB is a bare circuit board, and a PCBA is the assembly of a PCB and electronic components. They are different in that a PCB is the predecessor of a PCBA.

To be more specific, you can check the differences between PCB and PCBA below.

  • A PCB is a blank printed circuit board, and it is used to carry, connect, and conduct electronic components. While a PCBA is an assembled printed circuit board mounted with all electronic components.
  • Usually, a PCB cannot achieve the functions of the intended products, but a PCBA is a semi-product and achieves almost all the product's electrical functions.
  • In hardware electronics manufacturing, a product is manufactured first from a PCB, then a PCBA, and finally a box build.
  • For PCB fabrication, you will need to provide the manufacturer with a Gerber (PCB design graphic files); for PCBA manufacturing, you need to provide a Gerber and BOM (bill of materials).
  • PCB fabrication requires laminates, copper foil, and PCB inks, while PCBA manufacturing requires PCBs, electronic components, and solder paste.
  • Tests on PCBs include automatic optical inspection (AOI), flying probe testing, jig testing, and four-terminal sensing (only for high-performance applications). On PCBAs, the tests are AOI, functional jig testing, and thermal aging.

To know more about the differences between PCB and PCBA, you will need to check out the below introductions to PCB and PCBA.

Part 2: What is PCB?

printed circuit board

PCB is a printed circuit board. In some countries, such as Japan, PCB is also called PWB (printed wiring board).

A PCB is a blank circuit board laminated in layers of different materials - epoxy fiberglass, copper foil, and prepreg. The circuit layers are interconnected by plating through holes or blind/buried vias that are electroplated with copper.

The solder joints on the PCB mounting side are called pads. The pads will be soldered with electronic components. A PCB can be single component-mounting-sided or dual component-mounting sided.

The most common PCB is FR4 PCB, whose substrate material is epoxy-fiberglass. There are also aluminum PCBs that use the aluminum substrate. Besides, there are flexible PCBs, rigid-flex PCBs, AlN PCBs, high-frequency PCBs, copper-base PCBs, etc.

Part 3: What is PCBA?

printed circuit board assembly

PCBA is a printed circuit board assembly. It is a semi-product for anything, from a wireless earphones to a radar system.

A PCBA is a printed circuit board mounted with all electronic components. And small PCBAs can integrate to compose a large electrical and electronic system. The PCBA and system installed with enclosures are box builds, which are the end products.

The process to mount electronic components on PCBs is called PCB assembly.

There are two techniques used to mount PCBs with electronic components - SMT and THT.

SMT or surface mount technology means automatically mounting electronic components on the PCB surface's pads. SMT involves silkscreen printing solder paste on PCB pads, solder paste inspection, placing components on pads, reflow soldering, and AOI.

SMT assembly

THT or through-hole technology means mounting electronic components through the PTH holes. THT involves inserting the component pins through PTH holes and wave soldering.

Part 4: PCB and PCBA One-Stop Fabrication

Now you've understood the differences between PCB and PCBA. PCB and PCBA fabrication is the necessary process for any electronics business makers, hobbyists, and engineers.

PCB and PCBA manufacturer

PCBONLINE, a one-stop PCB manufacturer with two large advanced PCB manufacturing bases and one PCB assembly factory, can be your reliable supplier for the below reasons.

    • PCBONLINE provides PCB fabrication, PCB assembly, and box build assembly from prototype to bulk production without a quantity limit.
    • PCBONLINE can source quality electronic components at the lowest prices for PCB assembly.
    • The CAM engineer from PCBONLINE provides one-on-one PCB design/engineering support to you throughout your project.
    • PCB and PCBA fabrication certified with ISO 9001:2015, IATF 16949, REACH, IPC, RoHS, and UL.
    • Custom PCB and PCBA fabrication from 1 to up to 60 layers. Single-sided and double-sided are available.

If you have any needs for PCB and PCBA, please feel free to contact PCBONLINE by email at info@pcbonline.com to get a quote.

Conclusion

The main difference between PCB and PCBA is that PCB is a bare electronic board, and PCBA is an assembled board and semi-product. If you want to know more about the details of PCB and PCBA fabrication, you can visit PCBONLIN's blogs or contact us through the online chat window.


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