The process of PCB assembly has been differentiated into types. This depends on the production volume. High volume PCB Assembly refers to bulk or large PCB manufacturing. For this PCB assembly, over a thousand printed circuit boards are manufactured just in one production cycle.
Generally, the process is applicable to custom PCB assemblies or high demand standards. Furthermore, the process is very popular for high-end electronic manufacturing companies of today. Most of the time, the assembly process of high volume PCB is automated. This is to ensure that it is eco-friendly and efficient.
In this article, we will be introducing you to the process of high volume PCB assembly as well as its industrial significance.
What is High Volume PCB Assembly?
We can refer to high volume PCB assembly as a PCB manufacturing process in batches. Generally, in one batch the minimum number of printed circuit boards that can be manufactured is 1000. However, this process may have to do with a 100000 batch. As this number is very large, this pcb assembly type is referred to as mass production or large volume PCB assembly. This process is well-known in companies involved in electronic manufacturing as a result of features such as automated manufacturing, uniformity, and process consistency.
Furthermore, this process provides lots of industrial benefits. This is why it is highly preferred by a large number of electronic OEMs. This next section will introduce you to the advantages of the bulk manufacturing process of PCB.
High Volume PCB Assembly Benefits
The following are the benefits of working with large volume or high volume PCB assembly.
One Time Prototyping and Design Process
As a result of being a process of bulk manufacturing, the assembling of the PCBs is done uniformly. This is why the prototyping and PCB design are done just once for the entire printed circuit boards. For the process, the designers will have to pay good attention to the process of design. Once there is one error in the design, this can cause great loss due to the error that will appear in more than 1000 PCBs.
Therefore, here, the prototyping and design process helps to ensure the proper functioning of the printed circuit board. This prototype that functions fully is created and also tested to make sure of the performance. Generally, the work-alike look-alike printed circuit boards are usually preferred for the process.
Time-Efficient and Shortened Production Cycles
Despite the large number involved, the high volume PCB production features a shortened production cycle. The first step involved in the designing and prototyping reduces the necessary time for the complete production cycle.
Furthermore, the process is completely automated. This is to help in reducing human efforts. Production cycles assembled by humans are usually time consuming. However, as a result of automation, you save much time throughout the entire process. Due to its automated nature, clock-round production is also possible. This aids in reducing the assembly process duration.
Consistency in Quality
As the manufacturing of any PCB is done using the same specifications so as to maintain or ensure quality consistency, all PCBs undergo testing under similar or same considerations. There is nothing like sacrificing final quality. Just maintain production quality.
In general, the PCBs under large volume production usually undergo onboard test, functionality test, X-ray test, etc. What this ensures is that all products are capable of functioning under the right operational conditions.
Uniformity in Production
The maintenance of the production uniformity is as a result of pre-set specifications. All the printed circuit boards from the first to the final PCB will undergo uniform production. Therefore, you have to maintain consistency in the features during this PCB assembly type.
The process of high volume PCB assembly and high volume production is cost convenient. The necessary resources and components are bought in bulk. This is why it costs less than usual. You will save the cost required for the design, the manufacturing, and the testing involved in high volume PCB assembly.
Improves the Time-to-Market Capabilities
With bulk manufacturing or high volume PCB manufacturing, OEMs will get the benefit of having their pcbs getting to the market faster. This is good especially for those competing for a large share of the market. Why this is so is because at once, large volumes of printed circuit boards are produced. This helps OEMs to speed up their production, as well as their marketing.
SMT and THT in High Volume PCB Assembly
Some top companies involved in PCB manufacturing offer surface mount technology (SMT) and through hole (THT assembly) in their high volume PCB assembly.
These manufacturing methods are the major ones used in the production of high quality printed circuit boards. You will select from these modes of manufacturing depending on the specifications and design of the application.
Technical Specifications for High Volume PCB Assembly
Asides from the details present on the BOM, there are technical specifications for the PCB design as well. These technical specifications help in dictating the way the PCB will function.
Below are the major technical specification details, which will be included in the design.
- Feeder inputs
- Placement accuracy
- Size of the PCB components
- The height of the PCB components
- Dimensions or size of PCBs
- The working speed of PCBs
Applications of High Volume PCB Assembly
High volume PCB Assembly is applicable in producing different appliances in large quantities and at high rate. If you are seeking to engage in PCB production, then you must have a deep understanding of high volume PCB assembly.
Below are the industries where high volume PCB assembly is applicable.
- Aviation industry
- Automobile industry
- Defense or military industry
- Communication industry to help produce communication
Furthermore, you will make use of high volume PCB assembly in any industry where uniformity, consistency, and high volume production is very important.
What are the Stages Involved In Performing High Volume PCB Production?
Below are the steps involved in PCB production of high volume
You have to prepare the necessary materials required for the PCB assembly process. What is required include solder masking components, materials, PCB stackup, and production machines.
Furthermore, machines needed here include reflow ovens, placement machines, and stencil printers. With all these available, you will refer to the design and also check if everything needed is in place. Also, check the bill of materials and ensure all the needed products are in place.
One the materials are in place, you’ll arrange them and then start your machines.
Solder Paste Printing
The pcb assembly process for high volume production will begin with solder paste printing on the stackup. Make use of stencils and squeegees during the process of solder printing. Jet solder paste printing is also an alternative.
Placement of the component
This stage involves the movement of the PCB stackup with the solder paste to the next available machine. This helps in picking and placing the PCB components.
This process also moves at an extremely high speed since a computer usually controls everything that has to do with the design.
Once complete, you will inspect the components. Here automatic optical inspection is used. This checks errors present on the PCBs.
Next, the PCBs move to the machine for reflow soldering. Here, all the connections of the electric solder forms here. The heating of the PCB is the best possible mode of the reflow soldering. This should be done at the right temperatures, which connects the connections.
The process is then completed when you perform an automatic inspection so as to find or detect errors. Also, take note that the entire process takes place very quickly therefore producing printed circuit boards at very high volumes.
Things You Must Consider Before You Choose a High Volume PCB Assembly Service
Before you work with a high volume PCB assembler, you have to check the assembler’s manufacturing capabilities.
Below are the major factors you must watch closely
- Turnaround time
- Quality control
- Delivery services
- Flexibility and responsiveness
- Customization capabilities
- The number of years of experience the manufacturer has
- Manufacturing capabilities
Why is it Difficult to Escalate High Volume PCB Assembly from the Prototypes?
It is a painful and difficult process when escalating into a high volume PCB assembly from a low volume one. Below are some of the major reasons why this can become a very difficult challenge
- Make sure you change the formats and design files to ensure it meets the requirements of the new design
- You may not have the appropriate machines which fits these new specifications
- Also, you may need to change all the components, which you will place in the PCB
- You may need to alter the entire design so as to meet these new specifications
We hope you understand what high volume PCB assembly is and what it offers for circuit board assembly projects. High volume PCB assembly is simply a PCB manufacturing process done in batches. If you have any more questions feel free to contact us. You can also visit our blog to read other interesting articles.