You may not realize it, but printed circuit boards are more important and common than you think. Present within a vast majority of the electronic devices we use daily, these circuit boards are a vital component that ensures the proper functionality of electronics.
Keeping this in mind, it is essential to understand that the assembly of these circuit boards is vital, primarily because they are a major component within electronics.
Because of the components and circuitry involved within an average PCB, the manufacturing process is incredibly complex.
Not only that, but the board you are working on also needs to be reliable enough to support the assembly process so that the resulting PCB does not turn out to be faulty.
Let us discuss this in further detail, exploring deeper into the concept of PCB assembly, understanding the resources needed, and the assembly process itself.
PCB Assembly: In Depth
Before going into the specifics of the overall process, let us first establish a foundation: the assembly process, taking a broader look at this part of PCB development.
Simply speaking, the initial state of a circuit board that has yet to go through any component installation is a printed circuit board, also known as the PCB.
When the necessary electrical components have been installed onto the board, the resulting circuit board that we end up with is called the printed circuit board assembly, otherwise known as a PCBA.
Many people consider the PCB assembly and manufacturing process as the same thing, but that is not the case.
The main reason why assembling the circuit board is different is that when the PCB is being manufactured, it goes through a selection of different catering to the design and creation of the board.
However, assembly is what comes after the board has been developed after going through the design phase, involving the assembly of the electronic parts according to the main function of the PCB.
Resources Needed for PCB Assembly
Some certain tools and components are required to ensure that the overall assembling of the PCOB goes smoothly, and these include:
- The printed circuit board itself
- Transistors and other basic electronic components
- A soldering flux
- Necessary tools to perform a solder, including a soldering wire, soldering iron, and testing equipment.
Different Techniques of PCB Assembly
Even though the through-hole insertion technique for applying electrical components was the only way to develop PCBs, technological advancements have led to other methods, such as assembling a circuit board through SMT.
Assembling Using Thru-Hole Components
This type of PCB assembly involves certain components with wiring coming out of them, which go through the tiny holes within the PCB and are soldered.
When assembling a PCB using thru-hole components, it goes through a process called wave soldering, which involves the being applied in the form of a solder bar, which is put in an incredibly hot bath. This high temperature makes the solder stay molten and creates a wave-like design.
Once the wave has been made, the electrical components are passed through the molten state to be fitted within their places.
The overall assembling and solder process for these components includes:
- Insertion of the necessary electronics
- Applying the solder flux
- Preheating the solder bar
- Creating the wave solder
- Cleaning and inspecting the PCBA
- Testing the final product
Assembly Using SMT
Also known as surface mounting technology, this assembly process involves special components that do not contain any leads and do not need to go through any holes to be soldered.
Using this technology, they are directly soldered onto the PCB and are highly compatible with automation, leading to machinery automating the entire assembly process.
Many factors need to be considered when assembling a printed circuit board. However, with the right tools and components, you will not face any problems if you follow the steps mentioned above to assemble a PCB.