PCB Panelization Risks and Benefits

Written by Technology Magazine on June 15, 2017. Posted in Circuit board assembly services, Prototype pcb service, Small run pcb manufacture

Rapid prototyping pcb

As you may already know, printed circuit boards (PCBs) are fragile and require careful handling, particularly when shipped and during the assembly process, including the PCB prototype assembly. This careful handling is important to keep the unit secure and free from any damage. One of the most important was to protect it, is with panelization methods. For example, many boards can have multiple layers, which can even exceed over 40 layers. As a result, these are incredibly complex circuits which need to be protected, such as with panelization methods. Using these sorts of methods can protect the PCB integrity and quality, while allowing manufacturers to assemble more than one board at the same time.

While there are plenty of obvious benefits to this process, including fast PCB prototype assembly, it’s important to make a note of some challenges related to panelization. The primary challenge is perhaps of the least obvious. When manufacturing and putting together the panelization, it can be easy to forget that it must later go through depanelization, such as during PCB prototype assembly. Depanelization methods can result in additional necessary cleaning, as well as limitations when it comes to the use of saws and lasers.

Another challenge to panelization is the fact that poorly placed components can easily be damaged or become loose during depanelization. In addition, incomplete data files can always incur an extra cost. It is also important to ensure that uniformity is met, to prevent any mistakes. With uniformity ensured, PCBs will be better suited to meet their needs and not be discarded.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of PCB panelization, such as in PCB prototype assembly or PCB fabrication, far outnumber the risks. In fact, problems in printing can account for almost three quarters of all surface assembly quality issues. However, as long as careful steps are taken to overcome the challenges, then PCB panelization will be successful in the protection of the printed circuit boards. PCB panelization keeps small boards attached to one another, while they are in a large array. This means that the number of mistakes sharply decreases and the manufacturer can maintain a standard size. Manufacturers can also maintain efficiency in handling of the PCBs, so as to ensure that there is an increased output of PCBs without any increased costs. Because the revenue of circuit board and electronic component manufacturing in the United States is roughly more than $40 billion, it is important to ensure that costs are kept low, while quality increases in order for PCB manufacturing companies to be successful in the industry.

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