Posts by Andy Arner

What You Need to Know About Circuit Card Assembly

For entrepreneurs, start-ups, and specialized businesses that focus on developing, designing, and launching new technological products, the suppliers of the parts for their prototypes are key partners in their success. Circuit cards, also known as printed circuit boards (PCBs), connect and support the components used in electronic products in all industries.

Printed circuit boards, which were developed and refined in the early half of the 20th century, provide a cost-effective means of housing electronic components, and they can be mass produced by automated machines. This is in contrast to traditional soldered circuit boards, which required hands-on assembly. Traditional boards were also subject to breaking easily under any stress due to the soldered parts, glass vacuums, and sometimes bulky components. Creating viable prototypes of new electronic products requires reliable PCBs that can be designed, printed, and altered quickly and efficiently.

What Is Involved in the Assembly Process?

The circuit card assembly process to build PCBs involves several steps. First, the design and layout of the circuit card must be done using specialized CAD software or schematic capture tools. Once the PCB layout has been designed to meet the schematic requirements for maximum efficiency, the PCB is printed by etching copper that has been laminated to two sides of a non-conductive material. This material serves as the substrate of the PCB.

After the PCB is etched or printed, the assembly process that best meets the needs of the project is chosen. Different assembly processes for PCBs include both automated and manually operated equipment. The process may include SMT assembly, through-hole assembly, leadless device assembly, or ball grid array.

Within each different assembly method, the electronic components required for the circuit card assembly are soldered into place. This is typically done through an automated process such as wave soldering. In some cases, hand operators do the job of soldering.

PCB Services Companies

Companies such as BESTProto offer services that cover all stages of the assembly process. From the design, layout, and etching/printing of the PCB to the placement and soldering of components, these companies follow an efficient and quick process that can produce early prototype PCBs within a few business days. All PCBs are created using innovative processes, advanced automated equipment, and highly skilled operators.

These companies provide both prototype PCBs for early product testing and high-volume PCB assembly for finalized product designs in the telecommunications, industrial, medical, and military industries. With the right PCB assembly services, companies across all industries can meet their business goals.

Read more

Different Types of Printed Circuit Boards

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are used in a wide variety of electronic devices, including radios, computers, pagers, and radar machines. The boards support and connect electrical components using traces, pads, and other features.

Because they can be used for a variety of different applications, printed circuit boards are available in several designs. Some of the major types include:

• Single-sided
• Double-sided
• Rigid
• Multilayer
• Flex
• Rigid-flex

Single-Sided
The single-sided PCB consists of only one layer of base material with one end coated with a very thin layer of metal, typically copper. It also includes a wide range of electronic components on one single side. This type of PCB is usually used in simple electronic devices.

Double-Sided
The double-sided PCB is more popular than the single-sided boards. Both sides consist of metal conductive layers. They also contain other elements that allow designers to attach circuits on one side of the board to circuits on the other side of the board.

Rigid
The rigid PCB consists of solid and rigid material such as fiberglass. The rigid material prevents the board from twisting. Great examples of rigid PCBs include motherboards found in computer towers.

Multilayer
The multilayer PCB is more complex and has at least three layers of conductive material. The boards include additional layers that are situated beyond the bottom and the top layers in a design that is similar to that of a double-sided configured board. Multilayer PCBs are used in a variety of devices, including computers, file servers, and satellite systems.

Flex
Unlike the rigid printed circuit boards, the flex board is made of a flexible plastic surface. This type of material allows the board to conform to a specific shape during its application. Additionally, unlike the rigid boards, they can be shifted or turned during use without harming the circuits.

Rigid-Flex
As the name suggests, the rigid-flex board features elements combining those found in both the rigid and the flexible PCBs. These types of boards have been used in the military and aerospace industries for over two decades.

The professional team at BESTProto offers circuit board testing and circuit board Assembly for a wide range of customers, including businesses and governmental organizations. Contact BESTProto today for high-quality circuit board repair service delivered with the support of experienced technicians.

Read more

5 Different Ways to Use PCB Assemblies

compChip

Printed circuit boards have found their way into everything from toasters to web servers. They help mechanically support electrical components while also providing high-quality conductors to allow electricity to pass through a circuit freely. This versatility is helping engineers and hobbyists think of many new ways to use PCB Assembly technology. The following examples are just a few of the exciting ways that circuit boards can change electrical engineering.

  1. Prototyping Innovative Circuits

When technologists develop a new circuit, they work with a bare P.C.B. assembly to make sure that the design is viable. Breakout boards consisting of a minimal PCB and a single component have helped prototyper’s speed up how long it takes to test new circuits. Some people have even turned this aspect of engineering into a hobby.

  1. Attaching Hardware Devices Together

Computer bus architecture is making a huge comeback because the number of transistors that can fit on a single circuit board is skyrocketing to some amazing levels. Devices that were once external peripherals can now fit on tiny PCB assemblies. Integrated logic boards are helping marry some types of interfaces directly with the microchips they send data to. This is helping engineers make some very small devices.

  1. Testing Out New Greener Designs

RoHS rules have banned the use of solder containing more than 0.1 percent lead by weight when building printed circuit boards. Engineers are now testing newer greener alternatives that use other compounds to adhere to these rules.

  1. Educating Tomorrow’s Electricians

Printed circuit boards have come down in price so much that schools can buys pallets of them for use in technology classes. Some of these don’t even need to be soldered, which is great for students.

  1. Controlling Consumer Products

Home and business automation is a hot topic, and this means that countless new types of circuits have to be developed that can connect analog and digital components together. Engineers are starting to really push the envelope when it comes to fitting circuit boards into every type of consumer product imaginable.

While printed circuit boards have been around for a long time, engineers are still developing innovative ways of using them. You never know where you might see one turn up next. BESTProto leads the pack when it comes prototytping, assembly and production.

Read more

What are PCB’s and How Are They Made?

pcbb

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are self-contained modules found in all sorts of electronic devices. They contain electronic components that are connected to form circuits by depositing, or “printing,” conduction materials in a thin layer onto a substrate’s surface, which is known as an insulating board.

Types of PCBs

There are three basic kinds of printed circuit boards based on the method of construction: single-sided, double-sided, and multi-layered. Single-sided PCBs have all the unit’s circuits printed on just one side of the insulating board. When there are too many circuits to pack onto a single side of the substrate, both sides are used, creating a double-sided PCB. For even more complex circuit boards, a substrate comprised of multiple layers of components is used with each layer separated by a layer of insulation to create a multi-layered PCB.

Types of PCB Construction Technology

PCB assemblers use either plated through-hole technology or surface-mount technology to connect a PCB’s components and circuits to one another. The older method is the plated through-hole technology in which holes are drilled through the insulating board and plated with a conducting material. Wires, called leads, are threaded through the holes and are soldered to connection pads on the other side or layer. With the more recent innovation of surface-mount technology, small protrusions shaped like the letter “L” or “J” jut from the surface of each component on the substrate, making direct contact with the printed circuits.

In plated through-hole design, friction between the sides of the holes and the layers holds the components in place, with help from gravity, until the elements are soldered. In surface-mount design, a solder paste made from solder, glue, and flux are applied immediately to hold the elements in place while the connection is secured by melting the solder in an oven. Surface-mount technology eliminates the need for drilling and the clutter of connection pads from the PCB construction process although it does require more delicate and precise placement of the various components.

There is a third type of circuit board construction technology used to make a relative of printed circuit boards known as integrated circuits — also called microchips or ICs. These units contain considerably more circuits than any type of PCB, which are produced electrochemically directly in place on the surface of a tiny silicon chip. This technology is commonly called electro-mechanical. A similar type of circuit, called a hybrid circuit, combines the technologies and resembles a PCB with the exception of certain circuits developed in place electrochemically.

If you’re looking for leading-edge PCB assemblers to handle all your printed circuit board construction needs, BESTProto has experience in PCB construction for military, medical, industrial, and telecommunications uses.

Read more

10 Interesting Facts About PCBs (That You Probably Didn’t Know!)

best-proto

Printed circuit boards are everywhere! You probably use one more often than you might think. But what exactly are they and how do they work? Printed circuit boards, more commonly referred to as PCBs, are thin boards made from an insulating material, with a coated metal surface, sometimes on both the top and bottom. Small etches are created in the metal, which allow pathways and various metal components for electricity to travel through various components. These are mounted on the board with solder.  But just because PCBs are found virtually everywhere doesn’t mean you’re the PCB expert! Here are a few interesting facts about PCBs that you probably didn’t know!

  1. Their green color.

    The majority of PCBs are an iconic, dark green color. Why? The green you see is actually the soldermask that is showing through the glass, not the color of the PCB itself. While no one knows for certain where the use of green came from, there are a few theories.
    The American military initially used PCBs. Therefore, some people speculate that green was regulation standard when being used by the military, and has spread from there. Others think that green could have been the color of the residue from the original soldermask that was used to create PCBs. We continue to use green as a matter of convention, even though the original materials are not still used today. The third theory that some people believe is that the color green makes it easy for engineers to find faults in the traces, so many companies tend to prefer green to other colors. But modern PCBs can be made in almost any color!

  2. It was invented by an Austrian!

    Paul Eisler, an Austrian inventor, is credited with the invention of the PCB. However, even though Eisler is given credit for the invention, development that ultimately led to the invention dates as far back as the 1890s. In 1936, Eisler was working on a radio when he first invented the PCB. They didn’t really take off and see mass usage until the 1950s, but their popularity has grown significantly from there!

  3. They are everywhere!

    Today, pretty much every electronic appliance that you use on a regular basis contains a PCB of some type. Computers, printers, cell phones, digital clocks, microwaves, televisions, stereos—the list goes on! PCBs are so common, that you probably don’t even realize that you are using a device with one most of the time!

  4. Tracers, not wires.

    Most electronic devices are composed of wires, as a means of transmitting energy from one component to another. However, PCBs are different. PCBs use copper tracers instead of wires to transmit energy. This allows PCBs to be a lot smaller, because tracers take up less space.

  5. Designed using CAD.

    Before PCBs are physically made, they are designed using computer aided design (CAD) software. CAD software prepares the specific layout data for the prototype PCBs. This allows the board to be tested, and to check that all of the tracers are properly connected. CAD programs are used to design not only the layout of the PCB, but also the schematics of the board.

  6. Several components.

    PCBs are made up of several components, probably more than you ever imagined! Each component of a PCB has their own individual properties, including resistors, potentiometers, capacitors, inductors, relays, batteries, ruses, and transformers, to name a few!

  7. Can be personalized.

    PCBs can be fully customized to fit whatever specifications you need. However, fully customizing a PCB can be very costly to ensure that every aspect is customized to your specific requirements.

  8. Technology is always changing!

    Since the first PCB was invented in 1936, PCBs have changed immensely. Modern PCBs are smaller, faster, and more efficient to build. The technology that goes into building PCBs is ever changing. PCBs are just getting better and better!

  9. Getting smaller?

    With the advent of smaller and smaller electronics, PCBs have had to keep up by becoming smaller as well. Surface mount PCBs can be up to 1/10 the size of through-hole circuits.

  10. Ohm’s law.

    PCBs are strictly governed by physics. Electrical engineers must keep Ohm’s Law in mind when designing a PCB. This law dictates the relationship between current, resistance, and voltage. In other words, Ohm’s Law is the principle that electrical current is proportional to voltage, and inversely proportional to resistance. The different laws of physics strictly dictate the ways in which prototype PCBs can be designed and built.

Read more

Smart Homes are Being Made Possible by Fast and Efficient PCB Assembly

Untitled

The computer chip has revolutionized our daily lives in more ways than one. But it’s not just smartphones and laptops that are bringing us all closer together. Many of the machines we use on a daily basis are quickly becoming more connected with the help of cheap, printable computer chips.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) have not only become more cost effective in the last decade, but they have also become much easier to prototype and design. What was once a strenuous process for large companies, requiring vast resources, can now be done with incredible precision and speed by specialized PCB company’s like BESTProto.

This revolution in PCB assembly has allowed companies to build smart technologies into more and more devices. Our cars look more like driving computers than the simple mechanical machines our parents used to operate. Washing machines, refrigerators, and even glasses that send a signal to the bartender when sensors indicate your drink is getting low all use this progressive technology.

These current trends in smart products have driven the rapid growth of the PCB, semiconductor, and other computing chips as more and more products continue to build themselves with smart technologies. Soon you may find that maintenance on your household appliances deals more with software updates than it does hardware updates.

The machines in our lives are learning to communicate with one another. This revolution in interconnectivity has also sparked a revolution in small computer chip manufacturing. Instead of expending vast resources on the design and manufacturing of computer chips, companies like BESTProto can now quickly prototype and build PCBs that make our lives safer, easier, and less wasteful.

Read more
PCB assembly services

PCB Assembly in Modern Medicine

Technology has facilitated the evolution of nearly every major industry within the past few decades. Today, one of the main electronic components in most medical equipment is the use of PCB, or printed circuit boards. These components act as the “brain” of any given electronic medical device.

Untitled9

The layout in modern PCBs is optimized for the task performed by the device. For example, most medical device PCBs are intended to be highly precise and quick. Because of the tremendous complexity of a PCB Assembly, most medical equipment companies today outsource the assembly and sometimes the layout and design to highly specialized third parties. The development of PCBs from scratch is a tedious and time consuming process, but specialized third-party manufacturers can often have PCB assembly prototypes ready within weeks.

Development of these electronic components can be traced back to the early 1900s, but it was not until the latter part of the century that they became reliable enough to implement in medical equipment. Older board assemblies were large and often did not work consistently. They had to be assembled by hand, which led to failure in most instances due to human error during assembly.

Read more