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PCB Fabrication Methods

PCBPrinted Circuit Board (PCB), also referred to as Printed Wiring Board (PWB), is a mechanical assembly method used to electrically connect components of a computer and other electronic devices. It consists of layers of fiber glass sheet laminated together with etched patterns of copper. Often, PCB fabrication companies also manufacture related products using the specifications provided by clients. The most common type of PCB is the FR-4.

Boards may either be single-sided or double-sided. Double-sided PCBs are often used when connecting the components of an electronic device on both sides. This is done by means of plated-through holes, in which the walls of every hole are copper-plated so that the conductive layers of the board are connected.

Methods in Making PCBs
Etching

Etching is considered the easiest and most cost-effective PCB fabrication method. In this method, the unnecessary portions of copper are removed from the plated board using a chemical solution. You must place a mask or a resist on the sections where you want the copper to remain after the process. These remaining sections are the traces of copper that transmit current between electronic devices.

Chemical etching can be done with any of the following solutions:

• Ferric Chloride

Ferric Chloride can be used on any metal and is cheaper and easier to get than other alternatives. When you set up an etching area for a PCB, use a ceramic or plastic sink, possibly with plastic screws and fittings, and seal all metal screws with silicone.

If you use this chemical solution, always choose the type called hex hydrate, which comes in light yellow powder. Dissolve this powder in warm water and you can add a teaspoon of salt for easier and clearer inspection.

• Ammonium Persulphate

This is a dry etchant and can be easily mixed for copper clad PCBs and other bearing materials. Sodium Persulphate has several unique advantages over Ferric Chloride and other similar etchants:

(a) Sanitation: Sodium Persulphate does not leave stain on skin, clothes, or tanks.

(b) Easy Rinsing: Sodium Persulphate can be rinsed easily and does not leave any residue in water.

(c) Fast Etching Speed: When it comes to etching speed, Sodium Persulphate is fast and maintains an unvarying etching rate during the entire course of its mix life.

As with all etching solutions, Sodium Persulphate also has some disadvantages:

(a) Short Active Life: Once mixed, Sodium Persulphate’s tank life is up to three weeks only, whether or not the solution is used.

(b) Aggressiveness: Sodium Persulphate attacks natural fibers like wool, cotton, and linen.

Direct Plating

This is an industrial method that is done on the board where you require a track. Direct plating uses costly industrial machine.

Copper Removal

Copper removal is a simple way to make prototypes. You can directly print your circuit with a high-priced PCB cutter plotter and a layout software. This PCB fabrication method is slow and time-consuming. Therefore, it is used only for the production of prototypes.

Send Out

In this method, the actual data which will be used by the board-makers are prepared and sent to a board house where professional PCBs are manufactured. The data usually include assembly and fabrication drawings, layout file, and drill file of the hole positions.

PCB Assembly

Board houses are necessary if you intend to develop a printed circuit board for mass production. When sending data files to a board house, make sure all files meet the requirements of that particular board house. This method is highly-expensive and time-consuming but the result is a professional, top-quality PCB that is complete with amenities such as solder mask, fine line traces, plated-through holes, and a screen of insertion layer printed on top.

Class Standards

There are currently three (3) class standards offered in the market:

• Class 1

This class is for General Electronic Products, as well as for verification and testing of designs.

• Class 2

This class is for cutting-edge business machines, communication equipment, and other Dedicated Service Electronic Products.

• Class 3

Class 3 products are often used in several types of aeronautics, military, and medical applications—all of which require highly-reliable and uninterrupted service.
Among these classes, class 1 and 2 are often followed.

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We have been in the industry of PCB fabrication and assembly for almost 3 decades and over the years, our pricing and turnaround time have become the standards in the industry. We never fail to deliver excellent products and services within a reasonable period of time. So head over to www.pcbnet.com now and get your instant online PCB quote today!

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