What is a PCBA and How to Create Your Custom PCBA? [2020 Update]

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Introduction: History of PCBA

A Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) is a piece of electrical equipment that supports and connects the electrical and electronic components.

It uses conductive tracks, pads, and features that are etched from copper layers, laminated on or between the sheet layers of a substrate that is non-conductive.

The components are usually soldered on the PCB to connect them electrically and mechanically.

Since the creation of PCBA, it has gone through many different phases of its development to provide us the best and high quality of PCBA.

In the mid of 90s, the 1st ever PCB industry plan was laid down. When the 1990s came to an end, the first proper PCB industry was finally set-up.

After the end of the 90s era and till now, different development stages are happening and PCB is still in its growing phase. Many people still think that the history of PCB dates back to the 80s era because the ideas were put into experiments since the 1880s.

Let's dive further into the minor details about PCBA!

Part 1: What is a PCBA?

Printed Circuit Board Assembly is a term used to primarily highlight several electronic components like capacitors, resistors, and IC (Integrated Circuit).

To ensure that the connection works adequately, materials are welded or inserted in a blank circuit board and are inspected to test its performance.

pcba

There are PCBAs on all electronic devices and these days, we are all fully surrounded by electronic devices. From laptops to smartphones and all the other gadgets have PCBAs.

That significantly shows the importance of them.

There are two terms PCB and PCBA and both are related in a way that PCB refers to as a blank, unstuffed, and unsoldered Printed Circuit Board.

While the PCBA is an assembled, soldered, and fully populated electronic connection carrier.

A PCB consists of a sheet formed by an insulating material, copper foil, and a coating to protect the copper from corrosion. While the PCBA has all the assembled electronic components.

Part 2: How to Get a Custom PCBA

In this section, we will have a look at how to create a custom PCBA.

The first step in designing a custom PCB is in creating a schematic view.

The required component is placed on a canvas and their pins are connected with lines that represent the electrical connections.

The components usually are taken from a component library which is a part of the design software.

There may be multiple variations of the same components depending upon the type of package being used e.g. dual inline package or a surface mounted chip.

The packages may seem the same in the schematic view but are very different in the layout view where the board is actually designed.

Apart from the components and their electrical connections, power, and ground signals are also needed.

Also, connectors have to be placed on the PCB to make a place for power and ground.

The board also needs to be connected to external devices such as potentiometers and LEDs etc.

Once everything is placed in its place, an electric rule check is run to ensure no evident faults.

These may include breaks in wires or connection or any missing connection to ground or power etc.

Once the schematic is done, the board layout view is checked.

The components are moved at proper places that make good sense.

For the board production, signals are assigned to each layer and varying signals on a single layer cannot touch.

After the signals are laid, a design rule check needs to run to ensure proper placement of holes, traces, etc. These rules can be customized as well.

If the design is approved, the design files can be uploaded.

The communication language of PCB fabrication is a Gerber file.

Each board has multiple files, one for each layer.

Another file knows as the "drill file" is used to define where holes need to be drilled.

When the Gerber files are uploaded on PCBONLINE's online quotation system, it will run its own error check procedure. It produces an image file that can be printed and used to check what the final layer will look like. It also helps in ensuring if the components fit in the places assigned to them.

pcbonline system

After that, the order is placed at the PCBONLINE.

PCBONLINE ensures customer satisfaction and reliability. They built nearly perfect PCB boards with very perfect working and neatness. The pricing also goes down with an increase in the number of orders.

Here are some details of the PCBONLINE:

  • It has its three own PCBA factories and facility, as well as a group of in-house R&D team of 100+ engineers and 500+ technicians.
  • It can manufacture 1 to 100 layer PCBs/PCBA that is quite advanced, such as the high-frequency PCBA, aluminum PCBA, rigid-flex PCBA, HDI PCBA, etc.
  • It provides free services including the design for excellence (DFX), design for test (DFT), design for manufacturing (DFM), and design for assembly (DFA).
  • It accepts custom PCBA orders for prototypes, small-batch, and massive production.
  • It has a two-shift work system and the delivery is fast (the fastest delivery is 8 hours).

Part 3: Why PCBONLINE?

PCBONLINE is the best and most professional PCB manufacturer service for prototyping and custom PCB manufacturing. We are focused on meeting the customer demands for delivery, quality, best cost, and other customer demands. As a team of professionals building your PCBA, we ensure you to be your best business deal. We aim for excellence and make your work easy, efficient, and hassle-free.

  • We ensure the best quality for your PCBA. We test all the boards with highly stringent tests apart from visual tests only. We have a lot of satisfied engineers around the globe using our built boards, who trust us for our reliability and return again and again for their orders.
  • We provide you with instant quotations for your designs. We keep in touch during the manufacturing process just in case you need any improvements and the dispatched orders can be tracked also. This makes you satisfied and keeps you up to date with all the procedures.
  • We have no minimum requirement for the orders. You may order as many boards as you like according to your need.
  • The pricing we offer has no hidden costs on it. We offer the most competitive prices.
  • We deliver on time in almost all of our orders. We try to work around the clock in order to ensure your PCBs to be delivered at the scheduled time and even before that. We also use reliable delivery services only in order to avoid any delays.
  • We have 24h customer service available for you. If you have any queries we are always available for you. We always have a live representative to respond to your always invited queries.

Part 4: Techniques for Manufacturing PCBA

There are many techniques for manufacturing PCBs. These include preparation of the board surface, component placement, soldering, cleaning, inspection, and testing. PCBONLINE has been offering a variety of techniques for manufacturing PCBs in order to meet unique customer demands. Here are two usual PCB assembly techniques in use.

pcba process

  • In the "Through Hole Technology" or THT, the pins of the electronic components are inserted into the pre-set via the holes of the PCB. As the diameter and pitch are not too fine, the pitch, the diameter, and even the wiring cannot be very fine. THT is usually divided into single-ended, double-ended, and pin grid arrays.
  • The "Surface Mount Technology" or SMT stands for the whole technology of the mounting and soldering components onto the PCB board. The SMT does not need the reservation of corresponding holes for the components. In the SMT, the components have no or short leads only. Also, the main body and the solder side of the component are on the same side of the PCB.

Part 5: Benefits of the PCBA

Printed Circuit board Assembly is a vital electronic component of today's world. It offers several benefits, making it an important contribution to the modern world of electronics.

  • Time saver
  • It takes a lot of time for the traditional method of circuit connections to link the components. In contrast to traditional methods, the printed circuit board takes less time to construct a circuit.

  • Less cost with long term reliability
  • In comparison with the traditional method, it would cost you less money and will be more convenient for use with maximum reliability for daily use.

  • Durability
  • The Printed Circuit Board Assembly does not have any wires that could be risky and tacky for the user. While the traditional method has copper wiring for the interconnection of different components of the PCBA. This makes it much more durable and reliable.

  • Great compactness
  • The PCB offers a simple platform to arrange the components compactly and efficiently. Due to this, a large number of components can be easily arranged on the platform of PCB.

  • Easy to get repair
  • If any component of the circuit fails to respond, you can easily replace it with a new one. This makes the process of installation an easier and convenient one.

    Part 6: Applications of PCBAs

    PCBAs are used in a variety of industries due to their vital existence in the electronics world. PCBAs are crafted with a non-conductive material. On which copper sheets are spread widely. The use of PCBs in electronic devices is very common today and there are different kinds of PCBs. They may be single-sided, multilayer, or double-sided. They may be rigid, flexible, or contain components that are both rigid and flexible.

    Medical Sector

    As innovations develop, the healthcare industry is using rising numbers of PCBAs, unveiling new capabilities. In devices used for diagnostics, tracking, treatment, and more, PCBAs play a major role. In many instances, PCBAs must also follow strict sanitation requirements, especially those used for implants. Like the machines that compile and interpret these images, CT, CAT, and ultrasonic scanners use PCBAs. To obtain accurate readings of heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose, PCBAs are also a key element in it.

    Vehicles

    Several electronic components are being used by automobile manufacturers in their vehicles. PCBs were used mainly for items such as headlight switches and windshield wipers in the olden days, but now they operate many advanced features that make driving safer and easier for a lot of people. Before you install PCBA in your car, you should check that the specific part of the car for which you are using the PCBA will be able to resist extreme temperature and vibrations.

    Stereos and systems that incorporate navigation and entertainment do need PCBs. The engine management system and fuel regulators also rely on PCBAs.

    Aerospace

    There are similar specifications for electronics used in aircraft components to the ones used in the automotive industry, but aerospace PCBA may be subjected to even tougher conditions. In a range of aerospace devices, including aircraft, satellites, space shuttle, and radio communications systems, PCBA may be used.

    In order to track the operation of the aircraft, pilots use different types of monitoring devices, including accelerometers and pressure sensors. Often, these displays use PCBA.

    Military

    In military applications, the PCBA used must be highly reliable and robust. PCBAs are required to operate radio communication systems and other essential communications. The control systems for different types of equipment, including radar jamming systems, missile detection systems are based on PCBAs. Also, It allows indicators used by military members to track risks, execute military operations, and operate the equipment.

    Electrical Equipment

    PCBAs are really helpful in smartphones, computers, and the many other consumer goods that people use every day. PCBs with a large volume of connections are required to build small smartphones and laptops.

    pcba

    Wrapping Up

    Suffice to say that, PCBAs have a diverse range of benefits and applications that clearly indicates its important use in everyday life. Additionally, PCBAs are cost-friendly, which in turn makes it easier to use them in different industries. PCBA with its application in different technologies can be used in different situations.

    PCBONLINE provides a great platform for designing and developing your PCBAs reliably, on time, and cost-effectively. If you need to design and build an efficient and durable PCBA for your system, PCBONLINE is your best choice.

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