A printed circuit board may be one of the most fundamental parts of an electronic machine. This card is important as it keeps everything going. A simple printed circuit board actually keeps an electronic equipment or machine going by manufacturing the electricity on it. PCB is basically a card or a board with wires and components that come in different colors. Circuit board may look so complex on the first glance, but the truth is, anyone can create their own – even those who have little knowledge about electronics and all the terminologies used.
Here is a brief explanation of steps on how a circuit board may be made:
First, there is the design. Talking about the design of the printed circuit board, it is not actually for the aesthetic feels. The circuit boards have their own respective designs depending on the needed formation and connection of the components and the wires. One has to design the circuit board first before manufacturing it. How do they do it? First, engineers develop only prototypes of the boards and once the circuit is established, they can already start doing the board pattern. Most of the time, the design created by the engineer for the needed printed circuit board is sent to the factory where all the components and the wires are connected and put together in one board.
Second is the drilling part. The drilling machine plays a big part in creating the circuit boards because the first part of the manufacturing process starts when the technician puts a batch of raw PC boards into it. Then, what does the drilling machine do to the PC boards? In this process, all the boards, which are made of the glass-epoxy type with a copper foil on both sides, are being marked with all the data needed on the board. For example, the company name, the part designation and all the important information needed. All these data are silk-screened on the surface of the board in color white. Also, the drilling machine bores holes on the areas in which the wires and the components will be added.
Third, patterning. Before putting anything else on the board, the circuit pattern is being printed on the copper side of the board. It may be done photographically or with the use of silk-screening. This part is called the “resist” because the entire pattern of the soon to be circuit board is actually printed using a chemically resistant ink.
Fourth, the board is being etched. In etching, the board is being dipped in a corrosive solution that would dissolve the exposed copper. With this, all the needed pattern for the circuit board on the copper side, which are technically printed using the resist, will remain. In etching, all the needed circuit board parts remain and they are now called as the circuit board traces. After this procedure, the resist may already be washed off and the board would turn out to be a shiny clean copper.
Fifth is loading in which the parts are already placed on the board. This process is done in different ways depending on the manufacturer. In big companies, they do it with a machine while on small companies, everything is laid manually.
Sixth, the board is then soldered. A solder paste, with the help of a stencil, coats all the component side of the board. The board then will run on an oven. With this, the solder paste will be molten and all the component parts will be fixed.
Lastly, the board goes under inspection to make sure that it works the way it needs to be. This process is done by connecting the printed circuit board to a test fixture. Boards which have flaws are discarded.