PCB Fabrication Terms You Need to Know

When you order PCBs for your electronic device requirements, knowing a few or more terms helps you understand what we are talking. Although it is mandatory to learn every term we used, we recommend that you have a basic vocabulary of the PCB fabrication terms.

PCB

A printed circuit board is the green-colored board you see inside your electronic device. Sometimes, this board is blue, brown, red or any color. This board has tiny components attached to it. These components vary in color and in functions.

FR-4

Printed circuit boardsThis is a dielectric material made from fiberglass. It lends the PCB its stiff form. Other materials are used in the manufacturing of the board. These materials are epoxy or resins. Other manufacturers call this as perf board. Perf boards are cheaper but have shorter service life than an FR4 PCB. PCB can also be flexible, depending on the materials used in the PCB manufacturing.

PCB Manufacturing

Most of the times, when our client hears PCB manufacturing they think it is the whole process. Manufacturing is just one part of the processes to create a working PCB. It is the part where the actual board is produced through a compressing machine. It also includes predrilling of holes, especially if the PCB assembly is a through-the-hole technology.
PCB Assembly

This process refers to the placing of the electronic components on the board. This stage is one of the most important stages of PCB fabrication since it completes the whole process of fabricating the PCB.

Copper

Pcb fabricationThis part of the PCB is the conductor of electricity. It enables the board to function properly, to helps the conduction of electricity by the electrical components. This copper layer is placed in between dielectric materials. Another thin layer is placed on top of the board where the circuit will be printed.

Etching

This is the process of removing the excess copper layer on the top of the board. Etching is the same as printing of the circuit on the board. With the use of chemicals such as ferric chloride, we etch the circuit design on the board. However, before the etching process, we place a thin film on the top of the copper layer to protect the circuitry.

Silkscreen Printing

PCB AssemblyThe process refers to the labeling method we use. If you look closely to the PCB, you can see letterings and numberings that can be viewed with a magnifying glass or are obvious to the naked eye. Our personnel uses these markings to identify the correct electrical components to mount or the right paste stencil to use. These letterings also serve as markings for the component placement machine or the stenciling machine to read during the placement and assembly procedure.

Stencil Printing

Sometimes, this term is interchangeable with silkscreen printing. Although both terms have the same concept, stencil printing is commonly used in paste stenciling. The paste stenciling is the process of depositing the solder paste on the board. The stencils can be either metal or plastic. Mounting the right stencils is integral in the PCB assembly because the solder paste helps establish the joints between the pins of electrical components and the board.

Design Rule Check (DRC)

DRC is the software that checks errors in the board. It can detect incorrect solder joints, small drills holes, and incorrect markings on the board. DRC is not an absolute checking tool. After assembly, the PCB still undergoes testing to ascertain that it is functioning well.

BOM

Bill of Materials is a detailed description of raw materials, assembly pieces, and instructions on the components. This contains the part number, manufacturer, brand and other information regarding the materials that we are going to use.

Design Schematic

PCBIt contains our design, PCB fabrication plan, placement technology, procedures and technology used during the creation of your PCB. We update it regularly together with the BOM and other fabrication documents. Updates we make on these documents may include changes in the electronic components and defects found in the testing stage. Sometimes, the exact electrical components defined on the design plan may not be available from our suppliers. To avoid delays in the assembly area, we may use substitute electrical components that have the same quality with the original plan.

We aim to deliver quality products to our client. These terms are all part of our PCB fabrication processes. The terms mentioned above are just few of the many terms we use. If you do not understand any of the terms you read in the contract of order from us, do not hesitate to contact us and ask the meaning of the terms.

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