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.
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.
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. For this reason, it can be called PCA to put it simply. 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.
How to Get 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, an advanced PCB/PCBA manufacture, 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. Then your order is placed and you can monitor the PCBA process online.
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.
- 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.
This article was originally published on PCBONLINE.