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Further knowledge of PCBA technology, and distinguishing between PCB and PCBA

Further knowledge of PCB technology, and distinguishing between PCB and PCBA

A printed Circuit Board or PCB is an integral component of an electrical and electronic circuit supporting path for electrical conduction. Whereas, PCBA stands for Printed Circuit Board Assembly and is a complete package in the form of an integrated circuit. PCBA technology is fitted with all of the essential components and is ready to use for any specific application. Various components are usually installed onto the PCB such as diodes, modules, triodes, capacitors, resistors, inductors, etc.

PCBA technology is produced by printing a specific image onto the substrate and is usually manufactured through the use of glass cloth compound or copper-clad epoxy resin. PCBA technology is usually referred to as a complete package or circuitry and PCB is only the electronic circuitry. This article deals with all relevant information to PCBA technology.

What does PCBA technology mean

As mentioned earlier, PCBA is abbreviated as printed circuit board assembly and is referring to the circuit having an assembly of all relevant electronic components like ICs, transmitters, receivers, resistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors, etc. Every electronic device is having PCBA technology-based components assembly ranging from microwaves to smartphones, and from vehicles to laptops.

What are two types of basic fabrication techniques in PCBA technology

There are two basic types of PCBA technology grounded on the fabrication techniques, explained below in detail.

SMT or Surface Mount Technology

SMT is a type of PCBA technology that is mounting the electronic components over the PCB surface directly. SMT is considered very suitable for the process of assembling sensitive and tiny components like transistors over a circuit board. SMT is assisting to save space where there is no requirement for drilling benefiting in speeding up the entire process. Furthermore, through the application of SMT, electronic components could be assembled over the circuit board’s surface and both sides of the PCB could be used.

Surface Mount Technology

THT or Through-Hole Technology

THT is a type of PCBA technology that was under use before SMT. With THT, the electronic components are to be plugged into the circuital board with the holes penetrated in the circuit board, and then these components were to be soldered with additional wire on the board for making an electrical path.

This technology consumed more time when compared to SMT but had a few advantages, for instance, through the use of through-holes, the components were strongly bonded to the board. This advantage made THT best suited for the installation of larger components like capacitors and coils that were supposed to withstand higher power, mechanical stress, and higher voltages.

Through-Hole Technology

What are two common means to produce PCB

The following are two common means for procuring PCBs

  • The first means to produce PCB is to design the basic layout in software such as DipTrace, EagleCAD, Proteus, etc., and then print the layout on the PCB board. After etching extra copper, the circuit is achieved on which components are soldered after making holes with a drill machine.
  • The second means to produce PCB is to place components directly onto a board having holes and a copper path and then solder directly with soldering iron.

What are the differences between SMT and DIP in PCBA technology

SMT is known as the surface mount technology which is one of the most common methods for manufacturing PCBs in the current era. SMT is a technology for circuit assembly of the electronic components onto the surface of PCB through DIP or reflow soldering. DIP is known as Dual In-Line Package and is meant for assembling a dual in-line package of various components for the PCB where the pins will not exceed 100 counts.
Dual In-Line Package

SMT is solely for assembly with components having pins such as BGA, DFN, and QFN onto the surface of PCB. Solder paste is needed to be pasted onto the PCB first and then the SMT machine is to be utilized for soldering the components through reflow soldering for fixing the components. Whereas, DIP is for soldering the components with a through hole package and with the wave or manual soldering for fixing different components to the PCB.

Pros and cons of different PCBA technologies

The pros and cons of PCBA technology are discussed below.

Pros

  • The number of parts is fixed in such PCBs.
  • If produced on a large scale, the cost is very less for such PCBs.
  • If any short circuit happens in the PCBs, it can be handled, so there is no need to panic.

Cons

  • If the PCB is damaged, it is very difficult to be repaired,and .
  • Once the PCB is made, it cannot be updated.All machines cannot handle and use such PCBs.

Factors affecting PCBA technology

The following are the factors affecting PCBA technology.

  • Choice of material has a great impact on the quality of PCBA as it impacts the thermal reliability, temperature reliability, heat transfer, signal performance, and mechanical properties.
  • The number of layers of PCB is also having an impact on PCBA performance.
  • Finishing also affects the PCBA technology such as HASL and ENIG etc.
  • Factors such as spacing, minimum trace, aspect ratio, and thickness of PCB are also having an impact on the performance of PCBA.

What is the difference between PCB and PCBA

PCBA and PCB are both results of the same process. PCB is known to be a blank circuit having no electronic component attached to it while PCBA is known to be a circuit with all of the components attached to it for achieving a specific function. Furthermore, PCB is not a functional circuitry while PCBA is circuitry ready to be used as a device.

PCB and PCBA

How PCB is assembled

  • The process of PCB assembly encompasses several steps explained below in detail.
  • First of all, solder paste is applied to the PCB with the help of a stencil.
  • The components are then placed automatedly onto the PCB with the help of a machine.
  • Afterward, the reflow soldering is performed.
  • The next step is inspection and quality check. Inspection is done in many ways such as manual inspection, optical inspection, and X-ray inspection.
  • The next step is THT component fixation and then soldering is done. Soldering may be done with manual or wave soldering.
  • Afterward, functional tests are performed on PCBs and the final inspection is done.
  • The last step is to clean the PCB, give it a finishing look, and ship it to the client.

PCB assembly

What is PCBA package

PCBA package can be defined as the board onto which the solder has been pasted and all of the required components for a specific application have been mounted onto it such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, etc.

PCB technology is very important to PCB Assembly, understanding PCB technology will undoubtedly have a deeper understanding of PCB and PCB.

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