Pcb Fabrication

Written by Adam Blau
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As anyone who has created an electronic device from scratch can tell you, printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication can be a potentially complex, detailed process that requires a great degree of skill and meticulous precision. The forethought and planning of the design stage is only the first part of the PCB manufacturing puzzle. Once the circuit is designed, it is necessary to bring it into the real world by rolling up your sleeves and fashioning a board on which to solder electronic components and, eventually, attach a user interface.

Once a design is completed, it is necessary to etch it onto a blank circuit board. This can be done by either engraving the lines directly onto the board, or by exposing a photosensitive board surface to the light. In the latter method, a printout of the design is placed onto a transparency that is overlaid onto the board surface, thereby leaving the printed circuit pathways in a conductive state.

After the circuit design is imprinted on the board, it may be necessary to submerge the board in a chemical bath to rinse the surface free of unwanted conductive elements. It may also be necessary to place solder resist onto the non-conductive elements of the board, to prevent solder from bridging elements that should remain separate. Finally, the board must be labeled, so that the proper components can be attached correctly.

Automated PCB Fabrication

As you can see, there are many stages at which errors can be introduced into the PCB fabrication process. Thankfully, there are companies that can take your PCB designs and automate the process of board fabrication, thereby eliminating many of the errors that can be introduced by hand. Using circuit board manufacturers like these is also a good way to create many boards at once. Many fabrication plants will offer bulk discounts, as well.

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