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The fast-paced technology around us brought countless electronic devices and equipment into our lives. Those electronic items have PCBs at their core. This post is for you if you don’t know what PCBs are. Just like a living cell has a nucleus at its center, Printed Circuit Boards are present in nearly all electronic equipment and devices.

Manufacturers use the “pick and place” technique to assemble and produce PCBs based on Surface Mount Technology or SMT. PCBs are small green boards that have electrical components on them. The components get attached through soldering to make the final version of a PCB. Simply put, designing, layout, printing, soldering, and testing a board is the “PCB assembly process”.

What Goes Into the PCB Assembly Process?

The process involves various steps, including soldering, pasting, designing, and testing. In this section, we will look at those processes in a systematic sequence to give you a better idea of PCB assembling.

Reliable manufacturers align the processes with above-average standards to produce high-quality PCBs. As the vast majority of PCBs feature the surface mount technology these days, the process below is for the same type of PCBs:

  • Solder Paste

Before adding any components to the printed circuit board, manufacturers add solder paste to it. The paste is only for the component pads, i.e., only the spots that will have components on the board. It’s done using the solder screen and protective machinery.

  • Pick and Place Technique

The board with solder paste goes through the “pick and place” process. A machine containing components places them on the printed circuit board. The machine does that very carefully to ensure proper placement and in the correct position. The tension between the components and solder paste keeps them attached to the board, considering you don’t jolt the PCB too hard.

  • Soldering

After adding components following the solder paste, the boards go through the individual soldering process. That’s where the soldering machine will permanently solder each component to the board. However, this process isn’t widely popular with surface mount technology-associated PCBs anymore.

If the manufacturer uses the wave soldering machine, the first step of the assembling process will be the pick and place technique. The board won’t require solder paste separately as the wave soldering machine provides solder paste. However, reflow soldering is more popular than wave soldering for assembling PCBs.

  • Inspection

Without inspection, reliable manufacturers don’t release PCBs into the market or supply them to their business clients. Inspection deals with issues that might have developed at various stages of the assembling process. PCBs with surface mount technology have dozens of components and sometimes a hundred. Hence, manual inspection is time-consuming and discouraged.

Automatic optical inspection is a more feasible solution for surface mount boards. The optical inspection machines scan and detect poor joints, abnormal soldering, and inappropriate placement. It catches both visible and non-visible issues with the surface mount.

  • Testing

Once the inspection and correction are over, the PCBs go through the testing phase. Before leaving the manufacturer’s den, testing PCBs is necessary to ensure they’re functional and suitable. Factories use different ways to test PCBs and surface mount boards.

  • Feedback

At the end of the process, the manufacturers receive reports to monitor the overall production quality, especially concerning PCB quality. Factories check for issues and monitor the functionality of PCBs during the testing phase to know they’re producing high-quality printed circuit boards. 

Conclusion

All PCB manufacturers rely on quality and safety standards to deliver reliable printed circuit boards. Furthermore, many types of PCBs are on the market to fit various electrical devices and equipment.

Learning about the PCB assembly process enables you to find the right manufacturer based on your requirements. If you’re developing electronics or similar goods, you’ll require an extensive insight into the assembling process to use the perfect PCBs for your projects.

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Nova is a full-service printed circuit board assembler located in Denver, Colorado.