PCBA plays a vital role in the electronics industry. Most devices feature PCBA. The significance of PCBA in the manufacturing of electronics can’t be overlooked. PCBA manufacturers have continued to improve the quality of products they deliver. There are several PCBA manufacturing companies.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about PCBA manufacturers. The assembly of PCBs requires extreme attention and carefulness. Therefore, it is very important that a reliable PCB manufacturer handles this task.
What is PCBA Manufacturing?
It is very important you understand what PCBA manufacturing is all about. Most electronic devices feature circuit boards. You will see these boards in devices that need communications and computing power. One way or the other PCBA has had an impact on our daily lives. Even the smallest home appliance features a PCBA.
PCBA manufacturing deals with the assembly of electronics components on a bare board. The blank board here is the printed circuit board. PCBs are the foundation of PCB assembly. A PCB manufacturer assembles these electronic components on the bare board. This produces a PCBA board.
A PCBA can’t exist without a circuit board. PCBA manufacturers ensure that all the necessary components are mounted on the board. PCBA manufacturing involves certain steps. Each of these steps needs to be done carefully. They are all delicate and as such, they require skills and experience.
PCBA manufacturing transforms a circuit board into a complete board. PCBA manufacturing is the core aspect of the electronic industry. A PCBA board brings life to most electronic devices. PCBA manufacturing is a wide field that involves several aspects.
These days, PCBA services employ several techniques for PCBA manufacturing. The plate through-hole technology was a common technique in the past. However, the advent of surface mount technology has changed the game over time.
Therefore, PCBA manufacturing has also experienced great development over time. This has really helped in the production of some complex electronic devices. PCBA manufacturing entails mounting electronic components on boards through SMT or THT.
Steps in PCBA Manufacturing
In the manufacturing of a PCBA, there are several steps involved. These steps are very important in creating an effective and efficient board. Each of these steps plays a significant role in PCBA manufacturing. These steps are discussed below;
Preparing all the electronic components you need for your PCBA is very important. The surface of the board you will be using should also be cleaned. This step is very important in the assembling of PCBs.
After you have prepared your PCB, you have to apply solder paste to the board. The PCBA manufacturer adds solder paste to areas of the board that needs soldering. These areas are regarded as component pads. Here, the assembler places a steel stencil over the circuit board.
The solder paste comprises tiny balls of metal. These balls consist of a large percentage of tin. The solder paste is a mixture of flux and solder. The flux is a chemical that helps the solder bond to a surface. PCB manufacturers apply this paste to the board at the right location.
A professional PCBA manufacturer uses a mechanical fixture to keep the solder stencil and PCB firm. This machine ensures the paste spreads evenly across the stencil.
This step requires the manufacturer to place electronic components on board. The major aim of PCBA manufacturing is to place electronic components on boards. In this process, a pick and place machine is used. This machine picks these components and positions them in the appropriate locations. The use of automated machines has impacted PCBA manufacturing.
The tension of the paste helps to hold the electronic components on the board. Some PCBA manufacturers add glue to the board to help keep the components firm. There are two main methods of placing components of a PCB surface.
The traditional method involves the use of tweezers to place components. These methods come with errors since humans are bound to make mistakes. The use of pick and place machines has helped to reduce such errors.
After adding the components to the board, the next step is soldering. This involves transferring the circuit board to a conveyor belt. The reflow soldering technique is employed in this stage. The conveyor belt passes through an oven. There are series of heaters in the oven. These heaters heat the board gradually until they melt the solder.
When the solder melts, the circuit board goes through cooler heaters. Then the melted solder cools off and solidifies. With this, the SMD connects to the circuit board.
The PCBA board needs serious inspection. This process helps to detect any defect in the PCBA board. Once you have mounted the electronic components on the PCB, the board needs to be inspected. PCBA manufacturers use several inspection methods to test the functionality of a board.
Some manufacturers use machines for inspection while some employ the visual method. The automatic optical inspection is the commonest inspection technique employed by PCBA companies. This technique involves the use of machines to detect any defects in the PCBA board.
After inspecting the board for any defects, the next step is testing. In this process, the boards are tested to ensure they are functional. The manufacturer tests the signal, current, or voltage output of the board. If the result shows that the output is more than the predetermined range, then the circuit board has failed. The functional test is the final step in any PCBA process. Here, the failure or success of the board is determined.
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Techniques Employed by PCBA Manufacturers
A PCBA company employs several techniques in PCB assembly. The process of PCB assembly requires the use of several techniques. Today, PCBA manufacturers employ surface mount technology more often. This is because of the advantage this technology offers. PCBA service companies employ three main technologies for PCB assembly. Each of these techniques will be discussed below;
Surface mount technology
SMT is widely used in the PCBA industry. This technology involves using automated machines to mount electronic components on PCBs. PCBA manufacturers prefer this technique due to the benefits it offers. Surface mount technology has contributed positively to the PCBA industry. This technology employs pick and place machines. SMT uses reflow soldering which makes production easier and more convenient.
SMT has replaced the traditional method of mounting electronic devices on boards. In this technique, PCBA manufacturers directly mount components on the surface of the circuit boards. However, SMT has its benefits and disadvantages.
- High signal transmission speed
- Low cost of production
- Improves production efficiency
- Controls manufacturing process
- Optimal use of board space
- Reduction in errors
- Electrical noise reduction
- Simplifies production process
- Requires no drilling of holes
- Components can damage easily during installation
- Technical complexity demands higher-skilled operators
- Small volume
- Visual inspection is difficult to use
- Requires large investment in machines
The plated through-hole technology is the traditional method of mounting components on a circuit board. This technology drills holes on the surface of a circuit board. After this, the manufacturer then inserts electronic components through the holes. PCBA manufacturers plate holes on a PCB to ensure that components have contact with conductive layers.
Through-hole technology employs insertion mount machines or manual assembly. This technique is ideal for prototyping. Most PCBA service companies use through-hole technology for bulkier components.
- Provides stronger bonds between layers
- Withstand more environmental stress
- Ideal for applications that demand testing and prototyping
- Suitable for heavier components like electrolytic capacitors
- It isn’t ideal for high-performance or high-frequency designs
- Requires drilling of multiple holes
- Higher cost of production
This is another technique employed by PCBA manufacturers. The development in technology has resulted in the production of more complex electronic products. Some PCBA service companies employ mixed technology. Here, the manufacturer employs both SMT and THT.
A PCBA company will employ this technique if an application requires such. Mixed technology features the characteristics of both THT and SMT. This PCB assembly doesn’t utilize solder paste. Mixed technology PCBA is common in sensor boards, CPUs, and Smartphone accessories among others.
PCBA manufacturers should employ mixed technology in the following situations
- Double side mixed assembly
- Single side mixed assembly
- One side THT and one side SMT
Modern Technology Employed by PCBA Manufacturers
The advent of some technologies in today’s world has impacted PCBA manufacturing. PCBA features thin copper strips that help to connect components and allow devices to function well. Some modern technologies have contributed positively to the assembly of PCBs.
Glue dispensing technology
Component placement is a process of PCB assembly that requires utmost accuracy. This process plays a significant role in PCBA manufacturing. The glue dispensing machine helps to apply glue to the PCB. This technology has helped PCBA manufacturers to be accurate in their tasks.
Automated optical inspection technology
This technology helps to check the functionality of a PCBA board. The AOI technology plays a significant role in the PCB assembly process. With this technology, a PCBA manufacturer will detect errors under mass production. The optimal inspection machine helps to assure quality products are delivered.
In a PCBA factory, there is always a quality assurance team. This team uses the AOI machine to inspect the quality of a PCB assembly. The automated optical inspection technology can detect errors at higher speeds.
Pick and place technology
The pick and place machine helps to pick electronic components and place them on a PCB surface. This machine places components directly on a board without any errors. This technology picks and places about 30,000 components in one hour. PCB manufacturers who employ SMT use pick and place machines more.
Solder paste printing technology
During the process of PCB assembly, PCBA manufacturers apply solder paste on the circuit board. A solder paste printing machine helps to solder tiny electronic components together on the circuit board. Thanks to this technology that made it easy to solder tiny components.
PCB manufacturers make use of reflow soldering machines. These machines help to solder paste electronic components on PCBs at controlled temperatures.
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Factors that Influence the Cost of PCBA Manufacturing
Technicians and engineers have little or no idea about how much a PCB service charges. It is important you know how much PCB assembly cost before opting for one. The cost of manufacturing a PCBA board depends on some factors.
The cost of PCBA varies. PCBA manufacturers use a cost calculator to calculate the cost of operation. In this section, we will discuss factors that influence the cost of PCBA manufacturing.
Higher quantities reduce the cost of PCB assembly. This can be attributed to economies of scale. The price of manufacturing each PCBA board decreases when higher quantities are produced. PCBA service companies will charge you less cost when you are producing more quantities.
You can save up more money by increasing the quantity of PCBA boards produced. Therefore, it is important you opt for PCBA manufacturers that take large order volumes.
Cost of labor
The geographical location of a PCBA factory will determine the cost of labor. PCBA service companies are best located where labor cost is cheaper. PCBA manufacturing requires a skilled labor force and automated machines. For example, a circuit board assembled in South Asia will be cheaper than that of Western Europe.
The type of technology a PCBA company employs will determine the cost of PCB assembly. PCBA manufacturers who use SMT can offer less expensive services. This is because SMT helps to reduce the cost of production. In this regard, the use of automation is more prominent. PCB service companies that employ modern technology charge less for PCB assembly.
This refers to the time it takes to complete the assembly process. Turnaround time determines the cost of PCB assembly. Most times, a faster turnaround time results in higher costs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a PCBA Service Company
The advancement in PCBA manufacturing has contributed to the production of sophisticated devices. The fact is that most consumer electronics feature PCBA boards. PCBA is the core aspect of the most important electronic devices in the world. There are several PCBA manufacturers in the world today. It is important you choose right. You should consider some factors when choosing a PCB service company.
The best PCBA manufacturers offer top quality PCBAs. Quality is a factor you shouldn’t overlook. You want a PCBA made of reliable and durable materials. The best PCBA manufacturers use quality components during the process of PCB assembly.
A professional PCBA company should offer all types of PCBA. This company should have simple, complex, multi-layers, and complex PCBAs. Top PCBA service companies will help you customize your board according to your requirements.
Technical tools and resources
The manufacturing of a PCBA entails the use of technical resources. Lack of these resources hinders PCBA manufacturers from achieving their goals. So, even if the company has the right workforce, it can’t deliver quality without good resources. Meanwhile, a PCBA manufacturer with the right resources can deliver the best quality. ]
When choosing a PCBA company, you need to check out its certifications. This company should work according to the set out rules and regulations. Check out for companies with the right certifications. This is very important.
This is another factor you need to consider when choosing a PCBA service company. A company with long years of experience will definitely deliver quality.
Reviews and feedbacks
Customers’ reviews and feedback are very important factors. You need to seek the reviews of people concerning the quality of service the manufacturer offers. This includes knowing how committed and responsive they are.
Qualities of a Good PCBA Service Company
The quality of a PCBA depends on the capabilities of the manufacturer. A good PCBA service company has the following qualities.
Certified quality control
This is the first quality of a good PCBA company. Quality control involves assembly checks, process controls, inspection, and testing. This company will have certifications that meet the standards of the PCB industry.
Great customer service
A good PCBA factory should feature great customer service. It should respond to the complaints of customers. This should also involve being able to meet the demands of customers at the appropriate time. Great customer service also entails a company’s approach to solving problems. Furthermore, a good PCBA service company should have a strong support team.
Agile PCBA manufacturing
This is when a PCBA company easily adapts to changes without compromising quality. The PCBA industry is open to change. It is a dynamic one. So, it is very important for a PCBA company to institute change while maintaining quality.
This is another quality of a PCBA company. Most PCBA manufacturers work in accordance with the standard configurations. They ensure that the PCBA they deliver meet the demands of their clients. PCBA service companies that deliver custom-made boards are great.
Utilizes modern technology
The use of modern technology has impacted PCBA manufacturing. A good PCBA company should employ modern technologies for its assembly processes. Automated machines now make it easier and faster to complete the PCBA process. Good PCBA manufacturers should use up-to-date equipment.
A good PCBA company should offer timely delivery to clients. This quality shouldn’t be overlooked. A company that can provide timely delivery is a good one. Some PCBA manufacturers offer a track service that helps you know the location of your products.
Defects and Solutions in PCBA Manufacturing
There are common defects that occur during PCBA manufacturing. As a PCBA manufacturer, it is important you use top-quality boards. This will help to improve your business’ reputation. Here, we will discuss some PCBA manufacturing defects and their remedies.
This happens when there is poor alignment of the parts of a circuit board. Component shift is a common defect in PCBA manufacturing. Some parts misalign themselves due to tension on the surface of the molten solder. Solder misplacement, bent leads, and quick vibrations can also cause component shift.
PCBA manufacturers can tackle this problem. It is important you maintain the appropriate humidity and temperatures during PCBA manufacturing. Manufacturers can also reduce movement during un-reflowed assembly.
Chemical fluid leakage
PCB failure is a common experience for PCBA manufacturers. Ensure you carry out failure analysis tests over time. This will help you to detect the problems and solve them. Chemical fluid leakage can damage your circuit board. Leftover traces can also cause chemical fluid leakage.
PCBA manufacturers can avoid this by cleaning circuit boards thoroughly. Proper cleaning prevents corrosion from happening.
Heat dissipation analysis
When electronic components function at their overall capacity, they might get hot. This may result in overheating. PCBA manufacturers can solve the problem of overheating. This problem can be avoided by soldering the SMD heat sink properly. The SMD heat features a thermal pad that prevents the issue of overheating. There is better dissipation of heat when manufacturers solder the SMD heat sink.
Solder shorts happen during wave soldering. Shorts are a result of failure to separate several leads before the solder solidifies. This defect is not easy to detect. Poor fluxing, inadequate pins, poor fixing, and excess paste can cause solder shorts. To avoid this problem, reduce the pad size. You can also reduce the length of the component lead.
There are several PCBA manufacturers across the world. The process of PCB assembly is a daunting one. It involves several steps. PCBA manufacturing plays a significant role in the electronic industry. A PCBA factory specializes in the production of a PCBA board. Good PCBA companies employ highly skilled personnel.
PCB assembly services employ efficient processes that help them deliver quality. The assembly of PCBs can only be carried out by a professional PCBA manufacturer. In this article, we have discussed everything you should know about PCB manufacturers. Also, we talked about the processes they employ.