Posts by Andy Arner

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Common Applications for Printed Circuit Board Assemblies

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From smartphones to kitchen appliances, the heart and soul of each electronic is composed of a Printed Circuit Board Assembly that was, once upon a time, a prototype PCB. Each one comes in an array of configurations that allows it to serve a specific function.

As electronics continue to evolve and change, so will PCB Assemblies. Currently, they are found in just about every industry, continually evolving to create new applications. Because PCB Assemblies can be printed on a variety of materials and are pliable and sturdy, they can be used for nearly anything. We will explore the most common applications.

Medical Devices

Electronics play key roles in the healthcare industry. You can find PCB Assemblies in diagnostic, monitoring, and treatment devices. As electronics continue to develop and evolve, there are infinite possibilities as time goes on.

PCB Assemblies can be used within medical devices are extremely specialized so they can fulfill unique tasks.PCB Assemblies used for medical applications tend to be highly dense interconnections.

Because these devices are used for medical applications, medical PCB Assemblies are held to a higher standard than most other PCB Assembly types. Medical devices that depend on PCB Assemblies to operate include:

  • Monitors
  • Scanning Technology
  • Control Systems
  • Internal Devices
  • Scientific Instruments

Consumer Electronics

We use these types of electronics on a daily basis. Types of consumer devices include smartphones, computers, kitchen appliances, and entertainment devices. Located in each of these devices, you will find a PCB.

Because consumers purchase electronics in mass quantities, it is necessary for the production of PCBs to keep up with the demand. These types of PCBs come with a low per-unit cost, facilitating a low-cost final product.

The biggest challenge that PCB manufacturers encounter with PCBs for consumer electronics is that they must achieve uniformity and maintain quality. As a result, PCB manufacturers are required to comply with strict industry standards and quality-control measures that ensure every consumer electronic will function as it is designed and expected to.

The most common consumer electronics include:

  • Mobile Devices (smartphones, tablets, GPS)
  • Computer Electronics
  • Recording Devices
  • Entertainment Systems
  • Home Appliances

Industrial Applications

High-powered industrial applications depend on PCBs to control the mechanisms used in factories and manufacturing facilities. As a result, these devices need to be able to survive harsh conditions that are often found in industrial installations.

Because the industrial industry is a fast-paced environment, industry standards are equally rigorous. Examples of PCBs being used in industrial applications include:

  • Industrial Equipment (electrical drills, presses)
  • Measuring Equipment (measure and control pressure or temperature)
  • Power Equipment (DC to AC power inverters, solar power cogeneration equipment)

As you can see, PCBs are everywhere. They are responsible for the functionality we experience every day, from mixing a batch of cookies to reading our blood pressure. All of these electronic devices were once merely a prototype, with a proto PCB that was tested, tried, and, eventually, perfected.

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The Technologies Transforming PCBs

PCB assembly services

Several new technologies are shaping the PCB assembly services sector, and most of these have been developed in response to market pressures. Whether they’re responding to forces from the environmental sector or from legislative changes, engineers have been hard at work developing new techniques that are transforming the industry.

Wearable Computing and the Healthcare Sector

A recent push from the healthcare industry to produce smaller devices that could be used in surgery has spurred on the development of new nanotechnology solutions that focus on building components smaller than 100 square nanometers. Minimally invasive surgical procedures necessitate the use of tools that can fit into extremely small openings.

Consumers have been contributing to this type of transformation as well since the demand for wearable computer parts has also created a strong need for ever smaller components. Engineers are beginning to manipulate surfaces on an atomic scale, and this is helping them to design materials small enough to meet exacting specifications.

Green Manufacturing Processes

The demand for greener products has influenced the PCB market on more than one end of the market. On the production side of the equation, PCB manufacturing and prototyping companies have retooled their factories to comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. While this directive was primarily designed to influence the sale of products in the European Union, many North American companies like BESTProto have sought to eliminate the following six substances from their circuit boards:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • PBDE
  • Cadmium
  • PBB

RoHS rules forbade the use of any lead-based solder that’s greater than 0.1 percent of the weight of an assembled printed circuit board. Consumers, too, are demanding greener products. With a societal push for environmental conservation, more people are looking to make ecologically-friendly choices. In response, some companies have had to eliminate many chemicals even if they didn’t necessarily have to abide by the rules from a legal standpoint.

New chemical technologies are quickly replacing the use of these toxic substances when it comes to consumer-grade equipment. Lead-free solders using tin, silver, indium, zinc, antimony, and other metals are quickly making it possible to assemble circuit boards that don’t have poisonous chemicals in them. Advances in recycling have also made it possible to recycle existing electronic waste and prevent the release of these chemicals back into the environment.

With consumers continuing to push for smaller and more environmentally-friendly devices, PCB assembly services should keep moving forward with the development of new techniques and materials for the foreseeable future.

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What to Look for in a PCB Assembly Partner

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While large companies might be able to handle production delays, you’ll want to look for a PCB assembly partner that can work quickly, while providing regular updates about the process and provide design for manufacturability (DFM) feedback. Keeping a few simple tips about the best industry practices in mind can save a good deal of grief when it comes time to send in your design.

Red Flags

If you’re looking to hire a company to provide prototype services, keep an eye out for any of the following red flags:

  • Minimum production order requirements
  • Prototype partner wants you to source all the parts by yourself
  • Quotes take too long to get to you
  • Quotes seem outrageous
  • Long periods of time pass before the company gets back to you

You’ll also want to make sure that you’re dealing with a domestic prototype PCB assembly services company. While overseas companies might offer lower quotes, dealing with language, time zones, logistics and customs can add unforeseen delays and costs on top of whatever amount they claim it will cost. Shipping times between countries can also be extremely slow, which is a huge problem if you represent a smaller firm that needs to get a product to market as quickly as possible. Recent advances in PCB technology are making it possible for American manufacturers to now offer landed prices that are competitive against offshore options anyway.

Signs You’ve Picked a Good Partner

Companies that adhere to the best practices in the industry tend to make excellent partners. While it used to be rare to find service providers that accepted small production runs, many of the best domestic companies now have much smaller minimum orders. Established companies like BESTProto also offer PCB testing services, which gives you the option of going with a single service provider to assemble and test your circuit boards, thus cutting out the middleman. This also helps to decrease the amount of time it takes to get to full-scale production.

If you’re able to quickly get in touch with a representative from the assembly service provider, you’ve more than likely picked a good partner. Pay attention to how knowledgeable they seem. Prototype PCB assembly service providers that share the industry’s best practices with all of their employees are likely to make good partners.

Once you’ve made your decision and you’re sure that you’re working with the right partner, the prototyping process should be a breeze.

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Why Use a PCB Layout Design Service?

PCB layout service

You have a spectacular idea for a new gadget with functions that are easily controlled by a printed circuit board. However, you only have a schematic. The PCB cannot be released to the public in its current form. It’s time to consider a PCB layout service to take your PCB based product to market.

 

Designing as a Functional Feature

A layout service takes your circuitry connections from a schematic or breadboard, and they create a manufacturable PCB unit. Every circuit must be logically arranged on the board so that the electrical signals move through each component with ease.

This service will include an in-depth look at the safety of your circuits. Certain elements, such as microchips, must have the necessary insulation surrounding them. Without this design feature, the chip’s functions might break down because of interference from nearby resistors, transistors or capacitors. You can avoid any functional headaches with a PCB layout service.

 

Outsourcing to Professionals

Your idea and overall business could benefit from PCB services for a number of reasons. By turning to professionals, you’re freeing up resources within your business. An entire department can concentrate on other aspects of your gadget.

Outsourcing the design process is simply more convenient. Allow the experts to figure out any issues that might be plaguing the circuitry. You’ll receive feedback on the work, which keeps the rest of your project on track. Dedicating the right people to specific tasks will only boost your productivity and success over time.

 

Creating a Dialogue

It’s easy to have tunnel vision when it comes to your circuitry design. Hundreds of hours have probably gone into this design, and it finally offers the functionality that you demand. Working with a service gives you a third party’s view of your work. They may see improvements or changes that you’ve overlooked. These suggestions aren’t comments on your abilities, however. A fresh look at the design may be what you need to move the project forward.

 

Saving Production Funds

One of the costliest mistakes in the production world is faulty dimensions. You might have a PCB size in mind, and housings for your creation are being built right now. Any changes to the PCB size, however, renders your housings obsolete. PCB services will get the circuitry and size right the first time. Therefore, reducing the probability that your production will suffer.

When you turn to BESTProto, you’ll be working with professionals who understand the PCB layout business.

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Most Common Uses for PCB’s

PCB assembly

 

Electronics play a major role in your daily routine. You use them for everything from your kitchen appliances to your smartphone. A printed circuit board (PCB) is at the core of each electronic device. In fact, they are the foundation of electronic products. The components come in an array of PCB assembly configurations.

 

Serving a Variety of Functions

 

Nearly every vein of the electronics sector utilizes PCBs. These boards use a series of circuits that connect multiple components to each other. They are the small chips on a green PC board that are at the heart of most electronic devices.  As electronics develop and expand across a variety of industries, PCB applications have extended and adapted to new applications with ever smaller size and more powerful capabilities.

 

There is an infinite number of PCB assembly configurations. That flexibility allows them to function in different applications and capacities. Those applications and capacities include:

  • Medical devices
  • Consumer electronics
  • Industrial applications
  • Aerospace applications
  • Lighting applications
  • Smart homes
  • Marine applications
  • Security applications
  • Broadcasting and telecommunications applications

If electronics are part of an application, PCBs are part of the configuration. For example, smart homes are filled with various PCBs.

 

Smart Home Usage

There are more gadgets than ever connected in the homes of today. They include locks, switches and speakers. Some homes even have real-time energy monitoring systems. With the help of PCBs, such systems show energy consumption of individual appliances, monitor solar power and control smart devices connected to the app.

 

A PCB is also part of the smart thermostat that intuitively understands the cooling and heating equipment in your home. It functions based on data points that are unique to your home energy profile and the weather outside. Similarly, a home sound system expands to other rooms with a device that uses a PCB.

 

Soft white lighting enhances your home with a PCB-enabled remote that uses timers and light schedules. These lights can also turn on automatically even when you are away. Would-be intruders will be unaware of your absence. Even voice-controlled personal assistant devices make use of PCBs.

 

In many smart homes, people can control appliances that are connected to Wi-Fi electrical outlets. The devices can be turned off and on by smartphones that include PCB configurations. Indoor and outdoor lights are also controllable via smartphone.

 

If you’re in need of PCB Assembly prototypes, partner with a reliable tech company. BESTProto provides solutions that meet the requirements of many businesses.

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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.

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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.

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5 Different Ways to Use PCB Assemblies

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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.

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What are PCB’s and How Are They Made?

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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.

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

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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.

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