Printed circuit boards (PCBs) used to be designed and created by hand using clear Mylar sheets. Now, however, that process is handled with PCB design software.
In order to create PCBs, designers use a special software on a computer-aided design system, or CAD. They are able to lay out the circuit pattern on the board and create electrical conducting path spaces that can be 0.04 inches or even smaller.
After the design phase is complete, PCBs can now be produced and assembled even faster with assembly machines. It’s been shown that just 1 automatic assembly line can take the place of 50 hand solder operators. These machines are also able to provide more consistency and a better quality product. To illustrate this point, a conveyer configuration has the capacity to apply solder paste, and then place and solder 50,000 or more parts within an hour.
Connecting the circuits is another process that has become more streamlined. There are 2 methods used to connect the circuits on double-sided circuit boards:
- Through-hole technology
- Surface mount technology
There are a variety of multilayered circuit boards available. The most common have 4 to 10 layers. Complex circuit board assembly, however, can be manufactured with more than 42 layers.
In terms of trace thickness, which is measured in ounces of copper, many PCB designers will use 1 ounce to 2 ounces of copper. Heavy copper PCBs can have over 3 ounces of copper in their inner or outer layers. It’s important to note that quite a few PCB manufacturers are able to provide a thickness of 6 ounces when needed.
Transistors will theoretically continue to become even smaller. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them reach the size of a nanometer, which is the equivalent thickness of 10 atoms that are placed back-to-back.
When you need turnkey PCB assembly and related services, using the same shop can simplify the overall process. Whether you need prototype PCB service, or turnkey PCB assembly for small or larger batches, a machine-assembly shop can complete an order in considerably less time than with a shop that uses traditional hand placement. Given that some shops have a standard turnaround time of 5 days or less, this can assist your company with meeting project deadlines.